Global trends – accelerated by the impact of COVID-19 – are transforming the world and changing the football industry. The anticipated reforms for the European club competitions will have a further transformative effect on the competition landscape. They create opportunity and uncertainty for the future development of the entire industry and fundamentally transform the working environments of players.
FIFPRO recognises the need to create innovative competitions and emphasises the need to create quality jobs for players. We will continue to engage in the ongoing consultation process based on the following four principles:
1. Player workload safeguards:
The current workload of matches risks player health and endangers the performance levels for top competitions. Footballers are already experiencing fatigue and higher prevalence of injuries due to the ongoing competition cycle, back-to-back matches and a lack of adequate rest and recovery. A further increase in the number of matches for player in European club competitions would require the immediate implementation of direct player workload safeguards and an additional review of the international match calendar from 2024, something FIFPRO has consistently called for.
2. Protection of domestic playing environments:
The impact of significant competition reforms on the long-term development of domestic playing markets must be carefully analysed. Domestic competitions and employment markets must be protected. This includes, for example, the access to European club competitions based on sporting merit and the protection of exclusive match days at the weekend for domestic leagues. At the same time, high-quality playing opportunities are scarce for players in many markets and greater exposure is critical for them to build sustainable careers.
3. Innovation & development of competitions:
We recognize the need for competition formats to continue evolving as global trends continue to change. However, the innovative commitment and character of the football industry must focus on all market segments and create new and more innovative competition formats for a larger group of players to protect the diversity of the European game. Small and medium football markets must benefit from improvement. Competition design and new playing opportunities ought to support jobs at each level of every market.
4. Direct player protection schemes:
Market failure and imperfection in the football industry frequently affect players, as is shown by the large number of unpaid wages and bonuses. Financial protection schemes do exist, but they only support a minority of players. The creation of direct additional player protection schemes should play an important role in utilizing the increased commercial prowess of continental competitions to safeguard the broader football pyramid and the most vulnerable within it.
Without adequate competition formats, football markets and competitions cannot reach their potential. In the same way, football players cannot reach their peak without decent working conditions under which to train and perform. Today’s investment in the working lives of players will shape the benefits and growth of the game for the next generation.