The main driving forces of the union are Aldin Djidic and Tarik Trbic. Djidic is a former player with vast experience in Bosnia, Kazakhstan, Russia and Slovenia. He is the union’s founder and vice-president. Trbic is a former athlete himself, playing handball professionally, who acts as general secretary.
“After finishing my professional career, I came back to my country and wanted to help athletes,” said Djidic. “We established a union. The circumstances for playing were poor. Most contracts had no amounts mentioned. The clubs could pay players in cash how much they wanted, and if they didn’t want to, then no player could do anything about it.”
The union changed that situation. Players now have real labour contracts. The union also introduced a standard player contract, a pension fund and players can arrange free health insurance for their family. More important, contracts are more respected: the players get paid and if not, the union knows how to help them.
“We are adapting more and more FIFA regulations into our country’s football regulations, including those about payment issues,” Djidic said.
Next goal is improving the quality of the arbitration system, which is run by regional committees instead of one national dispute resolution chamber (NDRC). The system is not independent, does not include equal hearing and player representation, and sometimes has people deciding on contractual conflicts who are not lawyers.
“That needs to change,” Djidic said. “At this moment, foreign players have a better chance to a fair trial than Bosnian players. If a foreigner does not receive a salary for two months, he can terminate the contract and can turn to the FIFA DRC. A domestic football player must go through our national procedures for several months and has an unclear status all the time.”
A fairer arbitration system is one of the main goals in the strategic plan of the SPFBiH, which also includes:
- Improving the standard player contract
- including all FIFA regulations on the status and transfer of players in the Bosnian regulations
- professionalizing the lower leagues
- organizing and gradually professionalizing women’s football
- creating a match calendar which better protects player rest periods
- synchronising the Bosnian transfer window with those in other countries.
It is an ambitious plan, acknowledged Djidic. “As a member of FIFPRO, we know we are not alone in our fight to protect the players’ rights and I think we can get things arranged quicker.”
One of the union’s 700 members is Asmir Begovic, goalkeeper at English club Everton and member of the FIFPRO Global Player Council. “I am glad that FIFPRO recognized the diligent work of the union and rewarded it with full membership. This organization is very important for domestic football players. The SPFBiH is a solid and strong support for the careers of players and fights for their rights every day.”
“I believe that with the support of FIFPRO and all of us, gathered around this organization, in the coming years it will be even stronger and achieve its goal, which is to provide the best possible environment for football players in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I, as a member of the Union, am aware of the importance of this organization and they have my support.”