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World Players Association launches the Universal Declaration of Player Rights

Dec 14, 2017 | World Players Association

The world’s leading player association executives—collectively representing more than 85,000 players and athletes—will announce a Universal Declaration of Player Rights (Declaration) on 14 December 2017 in Washington, D.C. The Declaration will address the persistent, systemic and long-standing violations of players’ fundamental rights throughout world sport. It is the first framework ever that explicitly articulates the internationally recognised human and labour rights of players across the world.

The unveiling of the Declaration will be part of a gathering of the world’s largest and most influential player associations. In attendance and available for interviews will be 30 of the world’s leading player union executives from a variety of sports including football, basketball, rugby, cricket, baseball and ice hockey:

  • Brendan Schwab (Switzerland), Executive Director of the World Players Association
  • DeMaurice Smith (United States), Executive Director of the NFLPA and World Players Executive Committee member
  • Don Fehr (Canada), Executive Director of the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) and President of the World Players Association
  • Theo van Seggelen (The Netherlands), Secretary-General of FIFPro and World Players Vice President
  • Paulina Tomczyk (Belgium), Secretary-General-elect of the European Elite Athletes Association

“The Declaration fills a glaring gap. In the rule books of world sport there are thousands of pages detailing onerous obligations, but not one that coherently spells out the internationally recognised human rights of the athletes,” said Brendan Schwab. “The result has been the widespread and sometimes tragic violation of the rights of the world’s players. The Declaration makes clear that the rights of players can no longer be ignored and athletes must be able to quickly access justice to ensure their fundamental rights are protected, respected and upheld.”

Athletes around the world should not have to accept violations to their basic human and labor rights just because of their profession.  We should want athletes to be involved and ready to stand for important issues in their community in the same way everyone should want athletes to have the same rights to fairness and safe working conditions of other workers. Unions are the only organizations to make this a reality and we are proud to host our brothers and sisters from across the world for this important meeting,” said DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) and Executive Committee member of World Players.

In recent years, the need for the Declaration has become abundantly clear. Scandals have exposed corruption in international sport as well as rampant inequality, discrimination and abuse in professional and development leagues. The Declaration also builds on the more than 50 years of experience of generations of players who have organised through player associations so that they can increasingly access and pursue sport free of discrimination, in keeping with their fundamental human and labour rights and, where needed, have swift and effective access to justice.

The World Players Association brings together 85,000 players across professional sport through more than 100 player associations in over 60 countries. Major player associations belonging to World Players include:

  • FIFPro, the world football players’ union
  • the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA)
  • the International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA)
  • the European Elite Athletes’ Association (EU Athletes)
  • the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA)
  • the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA)
  • the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA)
  • the Japanese Professional Baseball Players Association (JPBPA)
  • the Australian Athletes’ Alliance (AAA).

The World Players Association was formally established on 5 December 2014 an autonomous sector of UNI Global Union (UNI), who represents 20 million skills and service workers in 150 countries.