EU Athletes has noted the report and recommendations from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes Commission which were approved by the IOC Executive Board on the 21st of April 2021. We are deeply concerned by the decision taken by the IOC and believe that the consultation process and the rule 50 itself are not compatible with the human rights of athletes.
By restricting its consultation to the Athletes Committees and Commissions, the IOC Athlete Commission disregarded the voices of thousands of athletes being represented by the independent unions and associations, as well as their human rights such as freedom of association and the right to organize. Regardless of numerous issues related to the methodology of the IOC AC consultation, there is no survey that could change the fact that freedom of speech and expression are universally recognized human rights that athletes enjoy.
The IOC’s approach to freedom of speech and expression consists of an attempt to restrict, redefine and control the way that the athletes exercise their fundamental human right. Threatening to sanction athletes who peacefully protest on issues such as racism is not only inconsistent with human rights, but also goes against the values that the IOC claims to support.
The idea that a sport organization can restrict or redefine the human rights of athletes is simply unacceptable. These rights, including the right to protest, are recognized and guaranteed by national constitutions and international human rights instruments. We are calling on governments, international organizations, and sport stakeholders to encourage the IOC to amend rule 50 and allow peaceful demonstrations on issues that are important to athletes and wider society.
EU Athletes continues to work to ensure that the athletes we represent enjoy the same fundamental rights as any other European citizen. We are committed to working with our members and the player association movement to support athletes who wish to peacefully protest or demonstrate on issues such as human rights or social justice, in whatever way they choose.
EU Athletes is proud to announce its recently concluded cooperation agreement with Johan Cruyff Institute, a recognized institution educating athletes, sport and business professional to become leaders in Sport Management. Johan Cruyff Institute will offer EU Athletes’ members special conditions to access its academic training in Sport Management, Sport Marketing and Sponsorship, Football Business and Coaching as a result of the agreement signed between the two entities.
“I believe our cooperation will have a direct and positive effect on many athletes that we represent, by expanding their future opportunities and therefore improving their well-being.” – said Paulina Tomczyk, the General Secretary at EU Athletes. “For EU Athletes and for our members, education, personal development and dual career opportunities for athletes are key priorities. This partnership will facilitate and promote our member athletes’ participation in the wide range of programs that Johan Cruyff Institute offers,” she added. “It is essential that athletes gain knowledge, develop interests and skills, and explore their identity outside of the game. I believe our cooperation will have a direct and positive effect on many athletes that we represent, by expanding their future opportunities and therefore improving their well-being.”
On 14th of October 2020, EU Athletes held an online exchange with the member player associations, in order to discuss the current situation in different sport and countires regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on sport, athletes and their associations. The summary of the key points from the discussion can be found here.
U Athletes shares serious concerns expressed by the international community regarding the situation in Belarus. We stand in solidarity with nearly 700 athletes and other persons from Belarusian sport who have called for, among others, new elections, end to police violence and assistance to all victims of illegal actions of the regime in their open letter. The Free Union of Athletes has become a source of inspiration for the protests, despite the risks for their professional and personal situation and safety.
As the protests continue, participants are reportedly being arbitrarily detained by the police and subject to torture and other ill-treatment. Top basketball player Yelena Leuchanka was arrested at Minsk airport on 30th of September, while trying to leave the country for a scheduled medical treatment. She was sentenced for 15-day prison sentence, for violating an administrative code regarding the organization and holding of mass events.
We condemn the arbitrary and violent treatment of the protesters and using any other type of pressure or repressions, including sporting and economic, against the Belarusian athletes. We are dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of all athletes in Europe and we are following this matter while cooperating with international player associations movement and human rights experts.
EU Athletes calls upon international organizations, governments the Olympic movement and sport organizations to demand and do everything in their power to assure:
- Immediate release of Yelena Leuchanka and closure of any proceedings against her.
- Respect and protection of the human rights of Belarusian athletes, including freedom of expression and freedom of association.
- That no athletes suffer any further sporting, legal or other retributions for their activism.
- Support the athletes’ demand for the full restoration of democracy, rule of law and human rights in Belarus.
Photo: Yelena Leuchanka, Instagram
Today EU Athletes publishes the results of its preliminary research on impact of Covid-19 on players and their player associations. The results are based on the questionnaire sent to EU Athletes’ member player associations, with 29 associations from more than 15 countries and wide range of sports participating.
The results clearly confirm the importance of player association movement, with the membership of associations growing and demand for services increasing. It demonstrates that, especially in the times of crisis, player associations are the ones that offer athletes the support they need. At the same time, many of player associations are expecting financial deficits and can be preoccupied about their long-term sustainability, but have not been receiving public financial support that would allow them to continue to offer support to their member athletes.
It is to be noted that athletes’ worker status and rights were identified as an important issue. Nearly half of associations have had cases of athletes’ contracts being unlawfully terminated or modified by the employers. When it comes to players not being able to receive government financial support, lack of contract or the type of contract and the employment status were indicated most often as reasons.
Looking to future, the player associations are worried that there will be fewer professional contracts in sport and reduced salaries for those still working as athletes and identified mental health concerns as a likely outcome for players from the pandemic. Almost half of the respondents thought the impact of Covid-19 will be worse for women’s athletes, which should lead to considering targeted support for elite-level women’s sport.
For Paulina Tomczyk, the General Secretary of EU Athletes: ‘First of all, this report clearly confirms the essential role of player associations, especially in the time of crisis, and this should be acknowledged and supported. There is also an urgent need to address issues such as athletes’ worker status and their labour and other rights. Current situation demonstrates that abuses in this area put athletes in particularly vulnerable position.’
The report is followed by recommendations, adopted by the EU Athletes General Assembly on the 18th of June, aiming to address the negative impact of Covid-19 on players and their associations. EU Athletes remains committed to dialogue with the sport sector, governments and European organizations in order to overcome the current crisis but also to make sport more sustainable and resilient in the future.
Find the full report here.
For any inquiries please contact Paulina Tomczyk, EU Athletes General Secretary firstname.lastname@example.org
A meeting organized by the Association des Clubs Professionnels de Volleyball has taken place in Nova Gorica, Slovenia on 15th of November 2019. On the invitation of ACPV, Blagovest Petrov, a former volleyball player and the General Secretary of Spanish Volleyball Players Association (AJJV) was there to represent his organization as well as EU Athletes.
It was an opportunity to talk about the development of player associations in Europe as well as different projects and initiative we are supporting, particularly on dual career and player development. Furthermore, the current volleyball transfer policy and the issues it brings were discussed. We believe that dialogue between all stakeholders are necessary to modify and improve the system which is now in place.
EU Athletes and its member associations representing volleyball players are looking forward to further cooperation with ACPV for the benefit of the athletes and the sport itself.