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Player unions in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Gabon, Honduras and Panama have officially become members of FIFPro, increasing the number of affiliated national unions to 63.

The new members were welcomed at FIFPro's annual congress by President Philippe Piat (pictured), who was re-elected to serve a new four-year mandate.

Membership means that four unions receive more legal assistance and financial support from FIFPro, and will have a say in the decision-making of the worldwide representative body of all professional footballers. 

FIFPro membership also gives unions more negotiating power with their national football federation, according to Pance Kumbev, President of the player union of FYROM.

“Now we are a member, we know that the football association will treat us as a more equal partner,” Kumbev said.

The federation of FYROM sometimes did not even bother to invite Kumbev to stakeholder meetings. “That will be different now,” he added.

The union is battling several issues, including a requirement by many clubs that players sign double contracts: an official contract registered with the FA and a secondary one which is not disclosed to authorities.

Typically, the secondary contract has a higher salary. However, if a club defaults on salary payments in this shadow contract a player cannot pursue what he is owed through football’s arbitration system.

Some 30 percent of Macedonian players signed two contracts according to FIFPro research last year, although Kumbev believes the number could be even higher.

The Gabon union, whose president is Remy Ebanega, becomes a FIFPro member as it battles the highest incidences of late pay in world football.

Some 92% of players are not paid on time in the country that hosted this year’s African Nations Cup, according to FIFPro research. “In Gabon, footballers don’t have the same rights as workers in other sectors,” Ebanega said.

Player unions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kenya, Mexico and South Korea have acquired the status of candidate FIFPro members. 

FIFPro is also in advanced talks with the Qatar Players’ Association about the organization becoming a member.

Below: Pance Kumbev (second from left) marks the moment as the player union of FYROM becomes a FIFPro member.

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