- The European Sectoral Social Dialogue for Professional Football facilitates joint labour actions through the European football stakeholders representing employers and workers
- The social dialogue plenary concluded a successful year of stakeholder cooperation to strengthen football competitions and improve working conditions for players
- Social dialogue partners agreed to continue facilitating the agreed objectives for pilot nations Czechia, Poland, Romania and Serbia, while Turkiye identified as first new focus-country of permanent working group
The European Union Social Dialogue Committee for Professional Football held its plenary meeting in Brussels, Belgium on 13 December where FIFPRO Europe agreed to continue and expand working with social partners in 2024 to protect the rights of the continent’s players.
European social dialogue refers to discussions, consultations, negotiations and joint labour actions involving organisations representing the two sides of industry: employers and workers. The implementation of the Autonomous Agreement contributes effective solutions to improve fair contractual working conditions for players that also help to strengthen the growth and sustainability of clubs and competitions.
FIFPRO Europe represents the interests of players in the continent, while the division’s members have also been involved in social dialogue at domestic level.
European Union Social Dialogue Committee for Professional Football
- UEFA: Committee Chair
- FIFPRO Division Europe: Social partner (employees)
- ECA & European Leagues: Social partners (employers)
Social dialogue partners agreed to continue facilitating the full implementation of the agreed objectives within the pilot programmes of the working group, which consists of Czechia, Poland, Romania and Serbia. Partners visited all four European nations in the past 18 months to assess national standard contracts and dispute resolution mechanisms, and issue tailor-made recommendations.
FIFPRO Europe General Secretary Joachim Walltin said: “FIFPRO Europe is fully committed to maintaining and strengthening the working rights of professional footballers across the continent. By engaging with the likes of UEFA, ECA and European Leagues in social dialogue, we’re ensuring the voice of the players is heard and we will continue to do work visits in various countries, as long as our respective members want us to support.”
Mirko Poledica, president of Serbian player union SPFN, said: "We are in the final stages of delivering changes on matters that are important to our players and we are confident that the constructive dynamic supported in our domestic social dialogue will continue to deliver agreements for the benefit of players in Serbia.”
Successful collaboration helping improve player conditions and sustainability of competitions
In Romania, a new mandatory standard contract was adopted and implemented in January 2023 – a direct outcome of the social dialogue involving both the domestic and European social partners. Meanwhile, in Czechia, stakeholders are currently negotiating the terms of a new standard contract based on the recommendations made by their European partners.
It was also agreed at the meeting in Brussels that two participants of each of the social dialogue partners will be included in UEFA’s Women in Football Leadership Programme (WFLP), as an output of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) workstream. The new edition of the WFLP is expected to take place during the first half of the 2024/25 season, between July and December 2024.
In addition, a permanent working group will aim to facilitate the opening of social dialogue in other countries, with the first focus-country being Turkiye.
Mehmet Gokturk Aslan, general secretary of Turkish players union TPFD, said: "We welcome the news that Turkiye has been identified as a focus-country for the permanent working group. We're looking forward to engaging constructively with domestic stakeholders to achieve progress in Turkish professional football.”
TPFD President Saffet Akyuz highlighted the Turkish union are ready to work with all stakeholders and that he is optimistic and hopeful about the process.
Employment priorities and challenges in focus at European Commission
In a separate meeting, FIFPRO Europe leadership also met with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education and Culture to examine employment priorities and challenges for the continent’s football industry.
Discussion items included protection of European employment markets in the context of international developments, player-needs across a variety of workforce priorities – including health and safety, extreme weather conditions, player workload – and measures to improve working conditions in precarious parts of the football sector.
The need for close cooperation amongst European football stakeholders and policymakers was underlined, in order to address industry opportunities and challenges in the coming years.