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Player unions in Africa have begun to achieve “clear improvements” benefiting thousands of players.

The 13 unions associated with FIFPro have in some countries helped to introduce standard contracts, collective agreements and tribunals to resolve pay disputes with clubs.

The significant progress is down to new dialogue with leagues, federations and the continental ruling body, according to FIFPro Africa general secretary Stephane Burchkalter

The unions met in Accra, Ghana recently at the FIFPro Africa congress.

“We are starting to see a snowball effect,” Burchkalter told delegates. “Apart from in two or three countries, there is cause for optimism.”

Burchkalter noted there is a “wind of change” in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) following the election of the ruling body’s new president Ahmad Ahmad.

He welcomed a spirit of cooperation with CAF, including an invitation to participate in a club licensing seminar recently.

“We are totally open to dialogue and I think I can say that CAF is,” Burchkalter said.

“However, there is still a long road ahead and only with our daily work can we guarantee progress.”baffoe lectern 450

The 2016 FIFPro Global Employment Report found that 55 percent of players in Africa are paid late or not at all – a higher percentage than anywhere in the world. 

Players in Africa tend not to be in a strong enough position to stand up individually or collectively to club management when they do not get wages or are mistreated.

Sometimes, they are dismissed without compensation. If injured for a long period they are left to cope on their own without pay and medical care until they recover.

The Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB) officially became a member of FIFPro at the meeting in Accra.

The other FIFPro member unions are in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Morocco, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Gabon is a candidate member, while unions in Kenya and Tunisia are observers.

The unions have gained respect and have unwavering support from players both at home and abroad, FIFPro Africa communications director Stephane Saint-Raymond said.

"Players everywhere are responding to the call, they understand the messages, they unite and help each other," Saint-Raymond said.

Picture above right: Host Anthony Baffoe, the general secretary of the Professional Footballers Association of Ghana, addresses delegates at the congress in Accra.

Picture top left: FIFPro general secretary Theo van Seggelen marks the membership with FUB general secretary Kgosana Masaseng (centre) and FUB honorary president Diphetogo Selolwane (right).