- FIFPRO President David Aganzo and global board member Maheta Molango were present at the World Football Summit in Seville, Spain
- Both were speaking on a panel examining player-centric issues that are either driving or will drive the football landscape in the coming years
- Central themes of the discussion revolved around ‘camouflage effect’ of player data and the current excessive workload of elite players
FIFPRO President David Aganzo and global board member Maheta Molango appeared at the World Football Summit in Seville, Spain where they both spoke on the panel ‘Player Insights: Shaping the Future Development of the Football Industry’.
World Football Summit is the platform that connects over 90,000 of the football industry’s decision-makers to generate new business opportunities and shape the future of the game.
Aganzo’s and Molango’s panel provided thoughtful insight on player-centric issues that are either currently driving or will drive the football landscape in the coming years, with particular emphasis on the current ‘camouflage effect’ of player data and the excessive workload of elite players. Joining them in the discussions were World Leagues Forum General Secretary Jerome Perlemuter, while the panel was moderated by Rayde Luis Baez.
"The health and safety of players is of paramount importance," said FIFPRO President David Aganzo. "Intense workload remains one of the most important issues for players in top-tier competitions.
"While the calendar continues to be expanded, there are just not enough safeguards to protect players’ well-being, performance, and career longevity."
Is current workload of players harming football?
The current calendar is a huge concern for footballers, who are at risk of burnout due to extreme scheduling and travel demands, with the likes of Raphael Varane retiring from international football at 29-years-old, citing “overloaded schedules”.
As the match calendar continues to increase in intensity, the dangers of players sustaining injury are clear to see, not to mention the risks to players’ career longevity, performance, mental health, and personal lives.
The panel illustrated how the current match calendar management shows little regard for players' overall wellbeing, while World League Forum’s Perlemuter emphasised how collective bargaining agreements between leagues and players are important for agreeing on issues such as workload protections.
Lack of player consent on data collection
Also on the agenda at the World Football Summit was the current use of player data. The extent to which professional footballers are surveilled when it comes to collecting their data in their workplace was recently described as “eye-opening” by a leading figure in data protection.
The Player Insights panel at the World Football Summit illustrated the current lack of player protection on data rights in the employment context and how a ‘camouflage effect’ is in place where their data is being used – in significant volume – without players’ consent or knowledge. Examples include tracking, biomechanical and health data.
The discussions highlighted the need for enhanced player data protection and correct management structures, so that the use of players’ data is equitable, transparent and in their best interest, and that players have a say in how their data is being collected and used.
"Players need to be at the centre of how their data is being used – data which is being collected on them in their workplace," said Malongo. "While the use of player data is generally thought about from a performance perspective, there needs to be a conversation around how it is used beyond performance.
"Where there are commercial benefits being derived from players’ data, the players themselves must be involved in that process and have their say."