GA 2023 Opening

FIFPRO and member unions engage in constructive dialogue at General Assembly in South Africa


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GA 2023 Opening
  • FIFPRO board and 66 member unions gathered in Cape Town, South Africa for 2023 General Assembly
  • Opportunity for board and unions to align on strategy and take part in transparent, robust discussions about the future of FIFPRO within the football landscape 
  • Event celebrated the successes of FIFPRO and player associations over the last 12 months, but also served as a reminder the challenges unions are still facing at domestic level

The 2023 FIFPRO General Assembly took place in Cape Town, South Africa on 21-24 November, enabling 66 member unions to align on strategy and engage in transparent, robust discussions about the future of FIFPRO within the football landscape.

The annual event offers player associations the chance to engage in open dialogue and share knowledge on a range of industry-related matters in order to better serve the needs of professional footballers around the globe.

“The world of football is moving fast and we have to adapt to the movements – we have to be proactive and look out for the rights of men’s and women’s players,” said Aganzo. “We have to be able to evolve and adapt at the same pace, so that we can adequately represent all footballers on a global level.”

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FIFPRO and member union representatives in Cape Town, South Africa

Commercial licensing, EDI among plenary session highlights

After Cairo, Egypt hosted the FIFPRO General Assembly in 2017, the event returned to the African continent with Cape Town providing the setting. Player associations were warmly welcomed by host union South African Football Players Union (SAFPU).

SAFPU President Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe said: “Through interactions with other countries from around the globe, we’re able to share ideas, best-practices and ensure that, wherever we are, our unions are built to a point where they can service the members. But it’s not only about the current [members] – it’s also about the generations that will come after.”

Transparent and constructive dialogue was encouraged during the four-day event, especially on FIFPRO’s future structures and processes, in order to best serve organisational goals and member objectives moving forward.

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The FIFPRO General Assembly returned to South Africa for the first time since 2004
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FIFPRO President David Aganzo
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SAFPU President Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe
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South Africa's Minister of Sport, Arts & Culture Zizi Kodwa gave an address at the FIFPRO General Assembly

Various workshops also focused on specialist areas such as legal, organising, and workplace safety, while members of FIFPRO's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee presented their global strategy.

There were also insightful presentations from FIFPRO’s licensing partners Konami and Gala Sports. Konami Director of Licensing Atsuhito Isoda discussed eFootball's rebrand from Pro Evolution Soccer and subsequent transformation, as well as their 20-year relationship with FIFPRO. Meanwhile, Gala Sports Founder Xiao Dong told the story of their company which has now expanded into five franchise games in football, basketball, baseball and more.

FIFPRO General Secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, who announced before the General Assembly that he would be leaving FIFPRO after 11 years to take on a fresh challenge, said: “The General Assembly ever year is a time of accountability: this is where the board reports on what’s going on, the administration reports on their activities, and the members feedback into that.

“It’s always important to have this once a year and, in our community of unions, it’s also a moment when you can hear from everybody about how they solved an issue that you’re currently dealing with.”

Members of FIFPRO's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee presented their global strategy
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FIFPRO General Secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann
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Gala Sports Founder Xiao Dong
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Konami Director of Licensing Atsuhito Isoda

Successes and challenges

The General Assembly enables FIFPRO and member unions to reflect on the positive strides made to help players in the last 12 months.

Examples such as the collective action of FIFPRO, member unions and over 150 international players that secured equal pay and guaranteed prize money at the 2023 Women’s World Cup, taking ownership in the field of player data, the success of the maternity regulations in the case of Juventus midfielder Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir, and working with key stakeholders to implement social media protection services against online abuse at the men’s and Women’s World Cup were all in focus.

While important successes were celebrated at the General Assembly, it was imperative to also highlight the challenges player associations are still facing at domestic level.

Bolivia’s FABOL – and the current relationship with the national federation – was one such union in focus. The situation in the country has resulted in players’ basic rights being denied, such as lack of union representation, a huge number of overdue payable cases, players being denied access to fair justice, and player contracts not being respected.

The FIFPRO board discussed the situation in Bolivia at great length, maintaining their fervent support for FABOL and the country’s players, and declared their intention to address the issue with the relevant authorities and FIFA.

“Without the national unions, FIFPRO could not exist,” said Aganzo. “Our Bolivian colleagues are suffering harassment and attacks by the federation. Many of us have had cases where FIFPRO has had to collaborate at national level. We are here because without the representation that member unions have today, FIFPRO could not exist.

“I want [to see] that close collaboration when a problem at national level is significant. Politics is very difficult, so we need that support from FIFPRO in many cases.”

Merit Awards winners revealed 

The General Assembly culminated with the reveal of the winners of the 2023 FIFPRO Merit Awards. Since 2008 FIFPRO has paid tribute to professional footballers who have made a significant contribution to charity.

Chris Kach (Kenya), Cedric Bakambu (DR Congo), and Wout Brama and Maud Roetgering were announced as the winners of the Player Activism, Player Impact and Player Voice awards, respectively.

Learn more about the FIFPRO Merit Awards winners

Meanwhile, the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe (FUZ) was voted by fellow player associations as the winner of the 2023 Union Impact Award.

FUZ played an instrumental role in helping lift the ban imposed by FIFA on the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) due to government interference. All national teams – men, women, youth – were suffering from the ban, while Zimbabwean clubs could not play in continental competitions.

The three finalists of the Union Impact Award – AUAPFP (Ukraine), MUFP (Uruguay) and FUZ (Zimbabwe) – were all acknowledged for their inspiring work.

Learn more about their initiatives: