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“Everything you need to know about your profession!” More and more African footballers are using the Z-Card – an innovative, educational, personalised leaflet produced by FIFPro Division Africa. Stéphane Saint-Raymond, the Division’s Director of Communications, tells us more about this new tool.

“What drove Division Africa to create the Z-Card?
Secretary General Stéphane Burchkalter and I first floated the idea of creating a new tool for African players a couple of years ago. We wanted to produce something tangible – something footballers could refer to on a daily basis. Our initial plan was to create a traditional brochure, but we soon rejected that idea. It didn’t really fit with what we had in mind. That’s when we came up with the Z-Card concept – a practical leaflet that players could carry in their pockets. It was the perfect solution.

Z cards for web 650 2We decided to produce it in English, Arabic and French – the first time our Division had ever published something like this in three languages. And because so many African players still cannot read, we realised we’d need to include pictograms, to act as a sort of reminder. In some instances – such as the health and nutrition section, which we developed with FIFPro’s Chief Medical Officer Vincent Gouttebarge – these pictograms provide enough information on their own.

Once you’d decided on the format, did you find it easier to produce the content?
It certainly wasn’t easier, but we’d already decided on the key information we wanted to include. Our main ambition was to remind African players of their rights and duties, so the document had to focus on football as a professional occupation. It’s an educational message that we repeat time and again: football is a job like any other. There are still far too many people in Africa, including club managers, who aren’t willing to admit this and don’t even sign contracts with players.

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Ghanaian international footballers André and Jordan Ayew with their Z-Cards


Speaking of education...
(He interrupts.) It’s about educating not just players, but managers too. This project is yet another example of the work we do to represent players, and how our efforts are supported by leading names in the world of football. It also shows the active role that our members play – both on the pitch and in their countries – in educating their peers. Ultimately, this project will benefit African football as a whole.

As we’ve always said, Division Africa and individual unions have a duty to work with, educate and defend players and to improve their living and working conditions. It’s in everyone’s interest. However, we’ve produced this Z-Card primarily for professional footballers in Africa, whether they’re employed, out of contract or youth players learning to ply their trade. It’s also for parents looking for guidance, and of course for our unions, to help them manage their relationships with clubs and deal effectively with their members. This resource will make it easier for them to talk directly to players about their careers, rights and duties, and ensure that their message is heard loud and clear.

How did you decide what to include?
In one sense, it was a relatively easy decision. We knew from the outset that we wouldn’t be able to cover everything. There are so many different, complex facets to a player’s career that it would have been impossible. We therefore chose six core themes that we believe reflect the most important aspects of a footballer’s professional life. If players understand the importance of these themes, follow our guidance and listen to the advice of leading African footballers who supported our cause, they’ll be well placed to enjoy a long and successful career and to remain in control of their futures.

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Stéphane Saint-Raymond


What themes does the Z-Card cover?
It covers six different themes: contracts, unions, conduct, health and lifestyle, risks and communication. Each theme is arranged in the same way, with pictograms, a short, direct and instructive piece of text, and a message by a well-known and universally respected player. The exact content varies by language.

I’m extremely grateful for the valuable contributions we received from eight senior players, our eight "Big Brothers" – Aymen Abdennour, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, André Ayew, Medhi Benatia, Essam El Hadary, Robert Kidiaba, Tebogo Monyai and Kolo Touré. These eight players all work closely with their unions and were specifically chosen to talk about a particular theme. Their messages are aimed not just at players, but also at football’s governing bodies, as evidence of the widespread support that our unions, national federations and Division Africa enjoy.

We also asked our two “sponsors” – Honorary President Didier Drogba and Ambassador Vincent Enyeama – to introduce the Z-Card in person. It may not be truly revolutionary, but everyone at Division Africa agrees that it’s our biggest success story to date. This innovative, educational and personalised leaflet (with individual member logos and contact details) embodies our determination to keep moving forward.”

Drogba Z card eng 640