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FIFPro enjoyed a highly successful congress in Tel Aviv, Israel. The world trade union for professional footballers welcomed 54 players’ unions and 145 representatives from all parts of the world.

 

The congress was held under the theme FIFPro making the next steps, the role of FIFPro on the way to an even more prominent role in the worldwide football world. The steps are essential, since the circumstances have not become easier, with the economic crisis and the tendency for clubs and leagues to restrict the rights of professional football players rather than to keep them - let alone extend them.

 

‘This is not an easy situation, but within this situation we must still defend the rights of the players’, explained Leonardo Grosso, president of FIFPro (photo).

 

Two important subjects on the agenda illustrate the difficult situation mentioned by Grosso: bullying, harassment and violence and match-fixing. Concerning this last subject, a criminal expert of Europol - the law enforcement agency of the European Union – spoke of the methods used by criminals and the dangers for the professional footballers.

 

Marketa Haindlova, Karel Poborsky, Dejan Stefanovic and Dario Simic

 

The first subject generated the most emotions among those present thanks to the evidence from trade union members from Italy, Russia, Slovenia, and Colombia, and through the experiences of people including two former top players and current union chairmen Dario Simic (Croatia) and Karel Poborsky (Czech Republic).

 

They all gave examples of what can sometimes be the very difficult circumstances that confront professional footballers throughout the world, such as extremely violent fans and unreliable and/or violent club managements.

 

The congress also paused to remember the death of Avi Cohen, the former president of the Israel players union IFPA.

 

‘We cannot not mention Avi’, said Oded Machnes, the new president of IFPA, Cohen’s successor. 

 

‘He took the IFPA a great step forward together with Arie Alter. I have played with Avi and I experienced that he was not a man of many words but of great deeds.’

 

 

 

Secretary general Theo van Seggelen added: ‘We have tried to make it the best FIFPro congress ever, because that is what we had promised Avi’s family. I think we have succeeded. We can be satisfied with the result.‘