Since January 2018, EU Athletes has been involved as a parnert the EU-funded project ‘European Social Dialogue Targeted Initiative: Strenghtening social Dialogue in the Professional Basketball Sector’. The project, coordinated by UNI Europa, allowed the player unions representing basketball players to participate in a number of meetings and work together in oder to discuss current issues and challenges, share best practices and learn from each other. Importantly, newly established player associations could also benefit from the knowledge and advice from the more experienced ones.
As the final action of the project which concluded this fall, top level players from 5 player associations (Sporta-Belgium, SNB-France, GIBA-Italy, ABP-Spain, ZZK-Poland) participated in a video where they talked about the reasons to join and to support their unions. While the reasons can be different for everyone, the common message from athletes around the Europe remains: ‘We are stronger together’.
(Kazan, Russia) The World Players Association today commended UNESCO for highlighting the essential need to safeguard player rights as a cornerstone of any effective approach to protecting the integrity of sport. Further, World Players called upon global sport to adopt a binding policy to embed the human rights of players.
“Integrity in sport as end can only be arrived at through means which themselves are underpinned by integrity,” World Players Association Executive Director Brendan Schwab told the expert forum on protecting the integrity of sport at the Sixth International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport (MINEPS VI).
“And respect for the internationally recognised human rights of the players, workers, spectators and other groups involved in sport is essential if any effort to protect the integrity of sport is to be legitimate and effective.”
To that effect the World Players Association released a new policy today which seeks to ensure that the fundamental rights of players are protected, respected and guaranteed. The World Player Rights Policy articulates the urgent need for international sporting organisations (ISOs) and other relevant sport stakeholders to adopt a player rights policy and spells out the necessary commitments and obligations which any such policy must contain.
“Professional players are subject to extraordinary and complex regulations which deliberately fall outside the scope of national labour law. In the absence of a legal framework to protect them players are left alone in dealing with the considerable risks of their sporting careers. Therefore, sport must commit to put in place reliable and trustworthy processes which protect and uphold the rights of its fundamental stakeholders”, said Schwab.
The player rights commitments laid out in the World Player Rights Policy are built around sport’s implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). The UNGPs are a global standard designed to assist business enterprises to avoid adverse impacts on the rights of others and to address such impacts if they occur. They rest on the three-pillar “Protect, Respect and Remedy” framework which requires the adoption of a human rights policy, ongoing due diligence, access to an effective remedy, and transparent reporting.
The commitments and obligations of the World Player Rights Policy provide a similar framework for ISOs enabling them to protect the human rights of the players and to honour core ILO conventions. The failure to respect the fundamental labour rights of players is among a number of risks the new policy identifies as salient which also include the denial to freely access and enjoy sport with equal opportunity. Other identified risks are trafficking, unsafe working conditions, and insufficient data protection.
“Professor John Ruggie’s 2016 report on FIFA convincingly demonstrated how ISOs in their dual role as competition organisers and regulatory bodies should apply the UNGPs to all of their dealing”, added Schwab. “With its recently published Human Rights Policy FIFA has made important progress towards meeting the requirements of the World Player Rights Policy and can make further strides provided its engagement with FIFPro continues to expand.”
The World Players Association is committed to engage with all stakeholders who control sport – ISOs, national sporting organisations, leagues, employers, business and government – to bring the World Player Rights Policy to life and to work in partnership with them to ensure an international sporting environment that is well governed and committed to guaranteeing the fundamental rights of everyone involved in sport, including the players.
Championing the theme #people first – embedding holistic player development in world sport – World Player Development Conference will kick off in Paris today. Over the course of three days, 75 of the leading player development professionals and player association executives from 28 countries and 10 different sports will exchange on current challenges and future scenarios regarding the personal development and social wellbeing of players.
The World Players Association has invited a wide range of speakers covering issues such as career advice and guidance, personal branding, mental health, the impact of wearable technology, safeguarding of minors, and the structuring and evaluation of player development programs. Player development and wellbeing is a vital concern for player associations and sport given the intense, short term and precarious nature of an athletic career.
Jean-Francois Reymond, Director of the French basketball players’ union (Syndicat National des Basketteurs) and Vice-president of World Players said: “We are thrilled to host the World Player Development Conference here in Paris. Player development has long been a priority issue for French players’ unions and we have always stressed that a dual career as such is not enough. Players are people first and a quality player development program must reflect that.”
As part of the conference program the delegates will develop the The Paris World Player Development and Wellbeing Standard, a document which asserts that sport and the player association movement share an important responsibility to develop the full potential of players as professionals, people, and citizens.
“The Standard will have two key purposes”, Brendan Schwab, Executive Director of World Players, explained. “First, it will serve as a tool for our members when negotiating, developing, implementing and measuring their player development and wellbeing programs. Second, it will provide a benchmark against which the world of professional sport can be assessed regarding the value it places on player development.”
“The Standard will provide an excellent reference point for FIFPro, its members, and other football stakeholders to measure their work and commitment in this field. We look forward to its development and adoption. The conference will enhance our understanding of how to better support our players as individuals off the pitch,” added Frederique Winia, World Players Executive Committee member and Director of International Relations of FIFPro, the co-host of the conference.
The conference comes on the heels of the World Players Association’s unveiling of its new strategic vision #WorldPlayersUnited last week. “Developing players holistically and empowering players’ associations worldwide to do this job are key priorities of our new strategy,” said Schwab. “This conference will be instrumental in order to tackle these goals.”
In attendance are representatives from the World Players’ Association’s peak body affiliates such as the Australian Athletes Alliance, EU Athletes, the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations, the International Rugby Players’ Association, the Japanese Professional Baseball Players’ Association, the National Hockey League Players’ Association, and the National Football League Players’ Association. The event will be facilitated by Sean Cottrell, CEO and founder of the sports law website LawInSport.
UNI World Athletes, which brings together 85,000 players across professional sport through more than 100 player associations in over 60 countries, has today unveiled its new strategic vision – #WorldPlayersUnited – to ensure the voice of the player is heeded in the running of sport.
The new vision sees UNI World Athletes become the World Players Association.
#WorldPlayersUnited involves placing the voice of the players at the centre of world sport’s decision-making through a powerful strategic focus on three pillars.
Build the voice of the players and the power of the player association movement
Embed the fundamental rights of the players in world sport
Work to embed the human rights of everyone involved in the delivery of sport, included affected groups such as workers, local communities, journalists and fans.
“#WorldPlayersUnited introduces the organised and highly respected voice of the players and their organisations to the leadership of world sport,” World Players Executive Director Brendan Schwab said. “In so doing, it envisages a future world of sport that is very different to the one that exists today.”
“Our vision is to champion the dignity of the player and the humanity of sport.”
“We have a three-part goal in the pursuit of this vision. First, the human rights of everyone involved in the delivery of sport must be protected, respected and fulfilled. Second, the same must be true for the players. And, third, the impact of sport must be positive, including in sporting, economic, environmental and cultural terms.”
“The attainment of this goal in full is necessary if sport is to retain its social licence. The future world of sport will therefore be underpinned by adherence to universal principles and international law.”
World Players President Don Fehr, the Executive Director of the National Hockey League Players Association said, “The purpose of World Players is to ensure that the players across sports who have common interests get together and play their role so that the key decisions in world sport that affect them are no longer made without their agreement.”
“As a guiding principle, we hold that all players should be free to negotiate the terms upon which they are involved in world sport, and to be represented by persons and organisations of their choice.”
“The players are very concerned about human rights, very concerned about labour rights and recognise that neither means very much without a prompt and effective remedy.”
World Players Vice President Theo van Seggelen, the Secretary General of FIFPro, the world football players’ union, said, “The world’s footballers are united with players across sport to ensure the rights of all players are respected and that international sport is governed free of corruption, cheating and the abuse of human rights. We will act across the world with solidarity. Players who are members of a player association in one country or sport can rely on the support of World Players and our affiliated player associations.”
National Football League Players Association Executive Director and World Players Executive Committee member, DeMaurice Smith said, “We are proud to be a part of this effort on behalf of athletes across the world. No matter what the sport is, or where it is played, athletes can and should protect their basic rights through solidarity. World Players United is an organization that will speak on the important principles of global athletes with one voice.”
The World Players Association is a sector of UNI Global Union. Its General Secretary Philip Jennings, who has been instrumental in the development of World Players, praised the new strategy.
“It is incredibly important to see the players of the world organise around both their rights and the rights of everyone involved in sport. The rate of player unionisation is increasing dramatically around the world for both men and women. Everyone involved in sport needs decent work and a fair wage, be they players, construction workers preparing for Mega-Sporting Events or workers involved in sports’ supply chains.”
Major player associations affiliated to World Players include
World Players Executive Committee
- Don Fehr (Canada), the Executive Director of the NHLPA (President)
- Theo van Seggelen (The Netherlands), the Secretary General of FIFPro (First Vice President)
- Jeff Reymond (France), the General Secretary of EU Athletes (Vice President)
- Omar Hassanein (Ireland), IRPA Board member and CEO of the Irish Rugby Union Players Association
- Tony Irish (South Africa), FICA Executive Chairman and CEO of the South African Cricketers’ Association
- Paul Marsh (Australia), AAA Board member and Australian Football League Players Association CEO
- DeMaurice Smith (United States), the Executive Director of the NFLPA
- Dejan Stefanovic (Slovenia), FIFPro Board member and president of the Slovenian footballers and athletes union
- Frederique Winia (The Netherlands), the Director of International Relations of FIFPro
- Takuya Yamazaki (Japan), Legal Counsel and Board member of the JPBPA
- Philip Jennings, the General Secretary of the UNI Global Union (ex officio)
World Players Executive Director
UNI Global Union
The World Players Association was formally established in December 2014 as an autonomous sector of UNI Global Union (UNI). It has been known as UNI World Athletes until today’s announcement.
Based in Nyon, Switzerland, UNI represents more than 20 million workers from over 900 trade unions in the fastest growing sectors in the world – skills and services, including media and sport. UNI and its affiliates in all regions are driven by the responsibility to ensure jobs are decent and workers’ rights are protected, including the right to join a union and collective bargaining.
To arrange an interview with Brendan Schwab or for more information please contact: Richard Elliott, Director of Communications UNI Global Union, firstname.lastname@example.org +41 79 794 9709
@WorldPlayersUtd ¦ @uniglobalunion ¦ @BrendanSchwab