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FIFPro now has its own voice in Brussels, the home of the European Union. In collaboration with EU Athletes, FIFPro Division Europe has opened its own office, from which Jonas Baer-Hoffmann will be working as a policy officer for both international players’ unions.

 

‘Jonas is our ears and our eyes in Brussels’, FIFPro secretary general Theo van Seggelen explains. ‘It is Jonas’ task to inform us about all sorts of developments, to keep us up-to-date on important decisions, projects and meetings.’ Baer-Hoffmann started his job on December 1st 2012.

 

For Baer-Hoffmann, being a policy officer in Brussels is known territory. The German born former basketball player already acted as a policy officer for EU Athletes - the association of professional athletes in Europe. ‘For the last couple of years I used to travel from Germany to Strasbourg or Brussels. Now, since a couple of months, I am living and working in Brussels.’

 

Baer-Hoffmann: ‘As every kid in Germany I started playing football from the age of six. When I was fifteen I switched to basketball. I played at a semi-professional level, but injuries forced me to stop when I was twenty years old.’

 

In 2005, Baer-Hoffmann started working for the German basketball players’ association SP.IN, and became its general secretary in 2010. Since 2007 he has been engaged in the work of EU Athletes. He became its policy officer in 2011. 

 

Baer-Hoffmann on his current job for EU Athletes and FIFPro: ‘It is essential that the voice of the players and the players associations is heard in Brussels. Coordinating our efforts with the agenda of the European Institutions is a big part of my work. It means gathering information, and developing and presenting our position in order to increase our influence on international sports policy.’

 

‘In Brussels, a lot of issues of great importance are discussed: dual careers of athletes, match fixing, anti-doping and soon again the transfer-system. It is my aim to secure that in each discussion which involves our membership’s interest, the voice of the players’ unions will be heard.’

 

Jonas Baer-Hoffmann with Jeff Reymond (general secretary EU Athletes)

at the FIFPro general assembly in Washington DC, 2012

 

Since FIFPro and EU Athletes joined forces, Baer-Hoffmann has already noticed a difference in his job. ‘The backing of FIFPro opens a lot of doors. FIFPro’s history and track record are well known. Being able to represent a wide spectrum of athlete unions within FIFPro and EU Athletes increases our influence.’

 

It was high time that FIFPro opened an office in Brussels and to hire a policy officer, explains Baer-Hoffmann. ‘Football has a strong lobby in Brussels and generates attention and interest at the Institutions. It is very important that FIFPro is represented in Brussels. Governing bodies such as UEFA and the International Olympic Committee have used their presence and influence in Brussels for a while, trying to shape and steer the discussions.’

 

‘It really makes a difference having a policy officer in Brussels’, says Baer-Hoffmann. ‘People already recognize that we are there. I have met a number of MEP’s who are looking forward to engaging with us, which will be of great benefit to FIFPro and its members.’

 

Baer-Hoffmann closely cooperates with FIFPro Division Europe board member Mads Øland and FIFPro Division Europe secretary general Theo van Seggelen, as well as with the FIFPro staff. ‘I am looking forward to continuously develop the communication with the national players’ unions and do my best to help them from Brussels.’

 

‘But it also works the other way around. The stronger the relationship of the national players’ unions is with their governments, the more influence we can have in Europe.’

 

‘Obviously, if somebody within FIFPro or its members need my help, require information or want to discuss things with me, then I’d be happy to hear from them.’