FIFPRO General Secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann discussed ways to strengthen solidarity within football, protect the rights of young players and collective decision-making. Other issues discussed included cooperation between football organisations and public authorities, and how to strengthen the role of women in football.
The aim of the hearing, via three round tables, was to provide the committee with practical insights for the Council of Europe’s report on “Football governance: business and values”. Other participating stakeholders included FIFA, UEFA, European Leagues, European Clubs Association and fan organisations.
“It is critical that we do not only reflect upon how we can grow out of this crisis from a competition structure perspective, but what bigger value systems are applied”— by Jonas Baer-Hoffman, FIFPRO General Secretary
Baer-Hoffmann said “it is critical that we do not only reflect upon how we can grow out of this crisis from a competition structure perspective but what bigger value systems are applied.
“Many of these the Council of Europe already stands for, such as solidarity and how we drive an inclusive and fair game. It is critical for our industry to identify better mechanisms to provide sustainable career paths for players across markets and how we deal with discrimination. This is still a massive problem. As we saw in the season before the coronavirus hit us, we had every weekend scandals of racial abuse of players in stadia.
“But it also concerns – and this is a critical element – labour relations. We have not been able to tackle this as a sport, and it is everybody's responsibility, ourselves included, that many players, male and female, are still working under conditions that are unacceptable and that do not comply with what we would consider decent and dignified employment for anybody working in this industry.”
Baer-Hoffmann was also asked to address the topic of sexual abuse within the football industry. FIFPRO, together with human rights organisations, has recently helped support women players in Afghanistan and Haiti. Federation executives in both countries received lifetime bans from FIFA.
In the second round table, discussing how different stakeholders can act to strengthen the protection of young players’ rights and better uphold their human development, Baer-Hoffmann talked about the position of minors in the transfer market and how the industry must ensure the rights of the child, protect children from human trafficking while providing sufficient opportunities for player mobility as long as safe conditions can be guaranteed.
“Many players, male and female, are still working under conditions that are unacceptable and that do not comply with what we would consider decent and dignified employment”— by Jonas Baer-Hoffman, FIFPRO General Secretary
The third and final round table, discussing stakeholders’ involvement in football governance, was opened by Baer-Hoffmann.
“We expect to have the freedom to associate, the freedom to enter into collective bargaining, et cetera. In this scope, we need very different governance mechanisms to allow this. In many countries, but also in some forms internationally, these are not yet appropriately established or sometimes even actively suppressed. It leads to various challenges and, historically, we've seen that it has been the athletes fighting for rights that were very common for other kinds of workers and that have changed the governance of football.”
FIFPRO will continue to work with the rapporteur, the entire Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), as well as the football stakeholders to support the development of the report in the coming months.