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The New Zealand Professional Footballers’ Association (NZPFA) proudly presented its newest Collective Bargaining Agreement for the players of the New Zealand national team, also known as the All Whites. As the first CBA in global football, it contains measures to help prevent players suffering from mental illness.

“It came about because of Dr. Vincent Gouttebarge’s work,” explains Andrew Scott Howman, President of the NZPFA. “A couple of years ago we contributed with Vincent’s project. We did not realise at that time that one of our own players, Chris Jackson, who was a fantastic player for New Zealand, was suffering from mental health issues.”

“It shocked even some of his friends who had known him for years. They did not realise at the time, and also not when they were playing with him, that Chris was suffering from these issues.”

For Scott Howman and the NZPFA it was perfectly clear that it was relevant to put together supportive measures for players/members such as Jackson. The NZPFA introduced a solution, In collaboration with the All Whites team doctor and FIFPro’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gouttebarge.

Each time the players of the national team come together for an international match, the team doctor conducts an individual and private survey which helps indicate the mental health status of the player in question. The doctor will keep the results confidential, even if a player would require counselling sessions. Only the team doctor will know.

Scott Howman: “It is a simple, but very effective way to help not only football players, but anyone suffering from mental health problems.

Dr. Gouttebarge welcomes the measures included in the New Zealand CBA. “These mental health studies in the past years were the necessary first steps before developing and implementing support measures for the players. The NZPFA CBA is unique and a good example for all FIFPro members. Meanwhile at FIFPro, we are working on the development of an intervention aiming at supporting current and retired players with mental health problems.”


Also read: New research links severe injuries to mental illness in football 
FIFPro to unveil new mental health research 
Chris Jackson: “Knowing people simply care is a huge help”