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People of the Union puts the spotlight on individuals across FIFPRO’s member associations who are dedicated to improving the wellbeing of professional footballers in their country.

Vered Plitman, Vice President of the Israel Football Players Organization (IFPO), talks about her work with the union, her experiences in football and what motivates her daily.

FIFPRO: Tell us about yourself, what is your current role, and what’s your background?

Vered Plitman: I am the Vice President of IFPO. I have a degree in business and marketing from the City University of New York. I liked playing football, but when I was young, there was no girls’ football, so I grew up playing basketball.

I was a marketing manager for various companies before I started working with Nir Alon, who was then with the basketball player union, more than ten years ago. In 2014, we started organising football players. I did marketing, communications, and now I am also working on second-career support and education. We are a small union with three, four people doing everything, so I work in many areas. I'm also a yoga teacher. I practice it every day and twice a week I train our colleagues in the trade union’s office. It is a great way to end the day.

What do you most enjoy about the work you do at the union?

I like people, so for me the most enjoyable thing is meeting players, going to football clubs to talk with them, to hear about their needs, and to find out whether our initiatives are affecting them. I enjoy seeing young players grow and advance with their careers.

I remember a goalkeeper, Omri Glazer, who won our Best Young Player Award in 2017. Four years ago, he joined our education program: Sports Start Up and Media. He continued playing and now he is the goalkeeper of Red Star Belgrade and our national team. It is nice to see how he developed both professionally and personally.

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Vered Plitman hands Tjaronn Chery the 2022 Best Foreign Player Award
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Left to right: IFPO representatives Karin Sendel, Moshiko Mishaelof, Debi Mouradian, Nir Alon and Vered Plitman
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Vered Plitman at the IFPO Player Awards

What issue affecting players welfare are you most passionate about?

Health. We introduced the BrainEye application to players in Israel. The app can detect brain injuries, including concussion. About three years ago, we were introduced to the start-up that created the app, and we’ve been involved with its development since. The idea was to introduce it to players worldwide. FIFPRO recently announced its partnership with BrainEye, granting union members free access. I am proud that we saw its potential. In our country, about 200 players are using it, and the number is growing.

Can you share one of your proudest moments working as a union representative?

Last year we hosted the first Player IQ Tech Experience for FIFPRO unions. It was our vision. For many years, we wanted to organise an event to get FIFPRO unions up to date about the latest developments. FIFA, UEFA and various clubs have innovation centres, however that doesn’t mean that they are beneficial for the wellbeing of players. Sometimes we have conflicting interests, so that’s why we, as FIFPRO, have to take the initiative to find out which innovations benefit players. 

Player unions collaborate for inaugural FIFPRO Player IQ Tech Experience Tour

If you could change something in football, what would it be?

I’d like to have more money go into girls and women’s football. Remember, I couldn’t play football when I was a girl. We should, for example, have more funding from the government, which could create legislation to arrange equal budgets for the development of girls and boys football, just like they did in the USA. It has to start from the bottom up to develop the women’s game. There is much more money needed for better training facilities and coaches, to get more girls to play, to keep them in the game, and to enable them to reach their potential. 

Is there anyone in the union world or in sports who inspires you?

I am proud of Karin Sendel, who grew up in a time when not many girls were playing football in Israel. She played with boys, who teased her. But she followed her heart and continued and became the captain of our national team. Two years ago, she led with us in the fight against the football association to get equal rights, budgets and terms for the women’s national team. And she also became a FIFPRO board member. Karin is a role model – there should be more women like her. 

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Vered Plitman and Karin Sendel

What is your favourite football memory to date?

This is funny. My husband was a footballer. We are both Israeli, but he went to play at Colombia University in New York in the IVY League. He was a defender and rarely scored. But during the last minute of the final regular season game, he went up front and scored with a shot almost from midfield. It was such a surprise! Thanks to his goal they won and advanced to the play-offs.

Who is your favourite football player ever and why?

There are many players I like, but I admire Pele. He had a great journey. He worked his way up from being a poor kid in Brazil to having a superb career as a player and becoming the Minister of Sports who introduced sports law. He is a real inspiration. He brought a lot of joy and hope to millions of people in Brazil and the rest of the world through football. He is a legend.  

What motivates you daily?

The recognition and the thanks we get from the players for helping them in so many ways. The fact that we can help them change their lives, their careers, with legal assistance, education or mental health support. Players come to us for many issues, and we try to give them the best support. And their feedback helps us grow too.

I will give you an example. There was a player who was having problems with his coach and team-mates. He was often annoyed and sometimes not behaving properly. I noticed that he was not doing well and referred him to a mental coach, who really helped him. He calmed down, became more understanding towards other people and had a very good season. When I recently spoke with him during our annual awards gala, he thanked us for helping him find the right solution.