- Three players and one union are the recipients of the 2022 Merit Awards
- Player Activism, Player Impact and Player Voice awards celebrate the selfless actions of footballers
- Inaugural Union Impact Award given to Chile for education campaign
Sung-yueng Ki (Korea Republic), Redouan El Yaakoubi (the Netherlands) and Ayisat Yusuf-Aromire (Nigeria) were revealed as winners of the FIFPRO Merit Awards at FIFPRO’s General Assembly in Uruguay.
Since 2008 FIFPRO has paid tribute to professional footballers who have made a significant contribution to charity, while this year also saw the introduction of the Union Impact Award – recognising the extraordinary work unions have been carrying on the ground to support players.
Four unions – IFPO (Israel), MUFP (Uruguay), SIFUP (Chile) and SJPF (Portugal) – were all saluted for their initiatives in helping players worldwide, with Chile receiving the inaugural Union Impact Award.
The winners of the player awards were selected by an eight-member jury consisting of union representatives, former Merit Award winners Haley Carter and Steven Bryce, ITUC’s Karene Walton, and former Global Player Council member Gabriella Garton.
The recipient of the Union Impact Award was selected by a vote among all FIFPRO member unions during the General Assembly.
Player Activism: Redouan El Yaakoubi
Redouan El Yaakoubi was awarded the FIFPRO Player Activism Award for his work supporting and developing children who are growing up in a challenging environment.
The Player Activist Award celebrates a player who campaigns to bring about political or social change through advocacy for a cause. Through his foundation Durf te Dromen (Dare to Dream) the Excelsior Rotterdam captain is helping more than 1,000 children. He created a special program to help them develop socially and emotionally, while also offering extra tutoring.
"I believe in this concept, and I dedicate a lot of time to it, maybe a little too much," said Redouan. "As the director, I am managing a lot, but I also enjoy talking with children in our program."
What the jury said
"Redouan is clearly an activist, and he is trying to realise societal change with his initiative. He identifies a problem in his community and then finds a way to solve it. This is more than just offering extracurricular support; this is also about bringing together a community and helping advance it. Redouan is trying to create a new reality for these children, and it is a phenomenal achievement that he has attracted so many of them."
Player Impact: Sung-yueng Ki
Former Korea Republic captain Sung-yueng Ki won the FIFPRO Player Impact Award for his charitable work with World Vision – a charity he has been working with for nearly 15 years, helping underprivileged people in Asia and Africa.
The Player Impact Award recognises footballers who seek to create impact in the lives of others. The FC Seoul midfielder has donated money to help build schools and medical centres in Africa, as well as covering the costs of medical bills for people who were in critical condition in hospital.
“We have now embarked on a new project to support 30 promising young footballers in Korea,” said Sung-yueng. “They range from 10 to 18-years-old and come from disadvantaged backgrounds. I donate between $4,000 and $5,000 a month to help support them – which helps buy food, accommodation and equipment for football – and will last for the next five years.”
What the jury said
“It is incredible what Sung-yueng has contributed and the number of goals he has supported through World Vision. He is not just donating money, he is also targeting the projects and really collaborating. The beauty of his work is that his activities are not only restricted to his own country, as Sung-yueng is also helping people in other nations.”
Player Voice: Ayisat Yusuf-Aromire
Former Nigeria international Ayisat Yusuf-Aromire won the FIFPRO Player Voice Award for empowering girls and women through her foundation. The Player Voice Award is given to a player who uses their platform to influence positive change.
Ayisat had to overcome great obstacles before becoming a professional footballer because of her gender. She is an activist trying to advance the life of girls and women in Africa by offering them valuable tools through football.
“The foundation is a way of promoting equality, health and supporting young girls to have the right to play sport,” said Ayisat. “We organise a conference for young footballers every year. I invite ex-internationals, so the players can see role models. I involve lawyers to let players know their rights. There are activists that come to talk about sexual abuse, violence and other important things.”
What the jury said
“The impact of this initiative is huge, with a foundation that is empowering girls and women. What makes this initiative so special is that it has a top-down and a bottom-up approach by bringing together players and experts. Ayisat must have a strong character, as it is difficult to champion something as a woman in Africa. It is commendable to do such a campaign in a country like Nigeria – and it is a good sign that the numbers of participants are increasing over the years.”
Union Impact: Chile
This year FIFPRO introduced the Union Impact Award, recognising the extraordinary initiatives unions are carrying out on the ground to support players worldwide.
The four finalists – IFPO (Israel), MUFP (Uruguay), SIFUP (Chile) and SJPF (Portugal) – were all saluted for their inspiring work, with Chile being named the inaugural recipient.
- Chile: Education campaign to encourage players and their families to graduate from school
- Israel: Campaign for equal pay deal for women’s national team
- Portugal: Study about effects of playing in extreme heat
- Uruguay: Improving players’ quality of life and mental health