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FIFPro today launched the official countdown to what will be a grand 50th Anniversary celebration in Amsterdam on December 15, 2015. The first FIFPro board meeting of 2015 also gets underway today, as the World Players’ Union fine tunes preparations to dramatically reform football’s failing transfer system.

Among the festivities being planned over the course of FIFPro’s 50th year, a truly unique Legal Conference that will harness defining moments in sports-related case law, underpinned by the 20th Anniversary of the famous Jean-Marc Bosman ruling.

The 2015 FIFPro Legal Conference, to be held December 14-15, will mark an astonishing coincidence: December 15 is when FIFPro was born in 1965, while the Bosman ruling was handed down in the European Court of Justice on the same date, albeit thirty years later, in 1995. The FIFPro-backed Bosman case represented a major turning point for the organisation, players and their rights to free agency, and helped to revolutionise the game worldwide.

In addition, a new initiative is underway to ensure all female professionals are able to collectively organise and promote their rights on a global level through FIFPro. Players can now sign up for a special FIFPro membership to eliminate gaps that presently exist in countries where women are not yet able join their local player associations.

In the countdown to the organisation’s Golden Jubilee, FIFPro will pause to reflect, educate the current generation about the enormous sacrifices made, and look beyond 2015.OfficeFounders

Paris is where the first FIFPro meeting took place at the former office of French players’ union UNFP, at 14, rue du Pont Neuf. A delegation made up of representatives from the five founding player associations of FIFPro (England, France, Italy, Netherlands, Scotland), together with former Presidents and current leadership figures recently returned to the French capital to mark the official start of FIFPro’s 50th year.

Now 81, former French national team manager, Michel Hidalgo, one of FIFPro’s few surviving founding fathers, was present to remember the importance of why the organisation was created in 1965. He said, “This profession did not exist at the time. We gathered to clarify and contribute with something new for the betterment of those who wanted to become a professional footballer.”

The first President of FIFPro, Professor Roger Blanpain, could not attend due to health reasons. Gerard Kerkum, who was appointed to the first FIFPro board, still resides in the Netherlands. The first Secretary-General of FIFPro, Jacques Bertrand, has passed away. FIFPro also remembers the late Cliff Lloyd, John Hughes and Carlo Masera who were all nominated to the first FIFPro board and helped to kick start what is now the official global representative for an estimated 65,000 professional footballers.

FIFPro President, Phillipe Piat, said, ‘Today is like a pilgrimage, going back to our roots. It’s critical to remember where we come from, including the fact that FIFPro was created to fight for basic rights like freedom of movement and challenge the transfer system. I’m not one to say that things were better before (in the early years of FIFPro). It is better now, but it’s not enough.”

As FIFPro’s leadership gathers this week (March 10-11) at the organisation’s headquarters near Amsterdam for the first board meeting of 2015, high on the agenda will be addressing the deadlock in negotiations over a proposed deal to ensure players are protected when a club does not respect the terms in their contracts.

The unwillingness of employer organisations, such as the ECA and EPFL, to rectify this ever-present problem and give players what is a fundamental right of all workers, to be paid in full and on time, is foremost in FIFPro’s mind as it prepares all legal means necessary to help rebalance the football industry.

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Photo (above): FIFPro delegation in Paris (Pont Neuf) to launch the organisation's 50th Anniversary

Photo (top left): Theo van Seggelen, Philippe Piat, Gordon Taylor, Tony Higgins and Leonardo Grosso gather outside 14 rue du Pont Neuf, in Paris, where the first FIFPro meeting took place on December 15, 1965.