As our name says, FIFPRO is a federation of player unions. Currently, 66 organisations are associated within FIFPRO to support professional footballers worldwide.
Get to know the Greek player union PSAPP, which was recently visited by a delegation of FIFPRO.
PSAPP is one of the older unions within FIFPRO’s family. It was founded in 1976 by among others former legends Mimis Domazos , Mimis Papaioannou , Antonis Antoniadis , Aristidis Kamaras, Giorgos Koudas and Kostas Leventis. PSAPP joined FIFPRO in 1977.
Currently Giannis Braho is at the helm of the organization. The former player is responsible for all international relations, but in practice he is more or less the general manager of the organisation. “I started getting close with the union when they helped me enrol at the FIFPRO Online Academy in 2013. I had two internships with them, and then they offered me a fulltime job. I now have a Master’s degree in Sport Management and I am studying for a Law degree."
Giannis mentions a couple of recent accomplishments. The union secured two seats in the Professional Football Council of the Greek football federation (HFF). The council has thirteen seats in total, but he considers it to be a good step. “Being on the council allows us to put our topics on the agenda, which is really important.”
One of the issues the PSAPP wants to address is an improved licensing system that limits the risk of clubs going insolvent and leaving players with debts. “Since 2012, around 50 clubs went bankrupt. Some clubs returned with a different name, and some went insolvent three, four or five times. In total 1,500 players are owed money by those clubs, for a total amount of 26 million euro.” The PSAPP wants to talk with the HFF about the creation of a guarantee fund to financially help these players. The union is already in talks with the Ministry of Sports about introducing a “player fund”, which should be financed from broadcasting rights revenue or by betting providers.
The accomplishment Giannis wants to highlight is the current relationship with the players. “It was necessary to improve our relationship. The players are our power. If we don’t have the players next to us, we have nothing.”
“I think we are closer with the players now than in recent years. They are more involved. When we needed them, when we were facing issues, the players were there. They showed their solidarity and support for 100 percent.”
“Transparency plays a very big role. The board and the union have to be transparent towards our players and have to be next to the players for everything the players may need. They have to be driven by the players and should not be afraid of possible negative consequences such as breaking relationships with federations and leagues. We are obliged to the players.”
“The board is fully accepted by our community and among others includes players from the national team, and our top teams Olympiakos and Panathinaikos.”
PSAPP has 1,350 members. “We have 100% membership, because it is mandatory through our licensing system to be a union member if you play in our league. It has been like that for many years.”
Recently the union amended its statutes to allow women footballers to become members. That is also the reason why the union altered its name from PSAP to PSAPP. The second P refers to the women players. “We wanted to illustrate how important the women players are for our union.”
“One of our main goals is organising women players. The league is still amateur, although some women have signed agreements. We want to make changes and introduce minimum requirements, a standard player contract and health insurance, for example.”
Last week PSAPP had meetings with the football federation and the Ministry of Sports that were also attended by a FIFPRO delegation, to talk about improving all conditions for women footballers, and various other issues in Greek football, including the introduction of FIFPRO’s Red Button anti-match-fixing app.
FIFPRO’s Head of Legal Roy Vermeer among other things explained how the National Dispute Resolution Chamber should be operating according to FIFA regulations, ”The conversation was in good atmosphere, as always. We have a good relationship with the federation. But now we need to see if they follow up our meeting with actions.”
Giannis’ main long-term goal for PSAPP is arranging a new collective bargaining agreement. “Our current agreement is very old, from 2008. I would love to have a new deal ensuring all the players’ rights in a binding document, so players don’t have to worry as everything is automatically arranged.”