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Philippe Piat is the new FIFPro President. The FIFPro General Assembly in Slovenia ratified the Frenchman as the successor to Leonardo Grosso. Piat will be President for the term 2013-2017.

 

In his speech, Piat addressed the solidarity among all professional footballers and players associations, and summarized the challenges that are awaiting FIFPro.

 

‘FIFPro cannot keep silent. It owes to the players to speak up. It committed itself to defend them, to support them, and to not abandon them, no matter the opponent and no matter that it may displease in high places. This is not and should not be our problem.’

 

A brief summary of Philippe Piat’s speech:

 

‘Dear Friends,
It would be unfair to take the floor without starting to thank Leo Grosso, my old friend, without congratulating him on his successful term of office.’

 

‘Without strong national players’ associations, FIFPro would resonate like an empty shell. Today FIFPro is a respected institution, that fights a daily battle, everywhere were professional football is being rightfully played, to defend the rights and the interests of the players, whether the player is called  Lionel Messi, the extraordinary forward of FC Barcelona, or Loïc Feudjou, the goalkeeper of Coton Sport de Garoua in Cameroon.’

 

‘For FIFPro, there is no and there will never be any difference between the most well-known, the stars, and the others ones, the anonymous players, who have the same profession and play football with the same unbreakable spirit. If there is a gap between the world’s best players and all the other players, then FIFPro is there to fill this gap. While helping the best players to get even better, FIFPro helps the anonymous players in order to allow them to step out from the shadow or, at least, to practice their profession under the best possible conditions.’

 

‘What is true for the players, is also true for us, the players’ associations. Solidarity must take precedence. What is the use of claiming players’ rights if we do not know how to apply solidarity ourselves and if we do not achieve that Namibia, that just now became a member, will be considered on an equal footing as The Netherlands or England, because this beautiful African country participates in exactly the same way in the life of FIFPro and gives meaning to the actions that we are carrying out as well as to our commitment.’

 

‘Although this solidarity is a necessary condition, you will not be surprised that it is not a sufficient condition. The years to come, that are contaminated by the worldwide economic crisis that hits of course also football, are going to be crucial for our union. We must…

  • Intensify our relations with FIFA. We must take our rightful place and bring the full weight of 60,000 professional footballers whom we represent. The same applies not only for FIFPro, but also for each of us, whether it be at confederations level, via our divisions, or at the level of the professional leagues and the national FA’s.
  • Review the transfer system, that we are no longer satisfied with (article 17, etc.).
  • Rethink the functioning of the FIFA DRC (that should speed up the processing of the files) and CAS (that should regain its independence).
  • Fight against third party ownership, that not only creates an unhealthy relationship of subordination, but also creates inflation and in the end weakens the financial capacity of the clubs, that is the players.
  • Continue our crusade against the WADA code, while stating that we are of course against any form of doping. The fact that WADA is looking for some guilty ones shouldn’t justify regulations that destruct freedom. Players are citizens just like anybody else, and not permanent suspects, nor criminals on the run.
  • Continue our battle against match-fixing, and we must make people understand that if there are corrupted individuals, there are also corrupting ones… To sanction only the footballers, will solve nothing.’

 

‘FIFPro must take the responsibility for the players. In Nyon, Zurich, Cairo, Asia and South America, who, if it is not you, if it is not us, has become aware of the underlying problems that are shaking the football planet: how many players are not paid anymore by managers who, with (almost) total impunity continue to promise and to compromise?’

 

 

‘With the exception of just a handful of players compared to the 60,000 professionals, nobody is safe anymore. Even Didier Drogba - the Honorary President of FIFPro Division Africa - now faces this problem.’

 

‘The players are tired of this. It is our task as FIFPro, to stop this infernal machine. We must ask the governing bodies to keep their promises. We will not be satisfied anymore with just words. We want to see them take real and concrete actions and we want to see that now!’

 

‘We must act in order to protect the players. The football bodies protect the football business, but when will they understand that without protecting the players, there will be no football business any more tomorrow, nor any football?’

 

‘We should never forget that we are trade unionists, we are fighters, and we must deliver our fight not only on the pitch, from Rio to Ljubljana, from Sydney to Abidjan, but also in the gilded rooms of the national or international bodies. The fact that they have opened the door for us, the fact that we are sitting around the same table, should not lead to a kind of self-censorship, that in the end would hinder our ability to deliver on our commitments towards the players. If we must raise our voice, then let’s raise our voice. If we must bang our fist on the table, let’s bang it on the table, which doesn’t mean that we should forget the value of dialogue.’

 

‘As from tomorrow you have to go back to the battle you are fighting in each of your countries, in each of your divisions, that must stimulate, organise, help, that must know how to be outraged and how to hit whenever necessary…  The stronger you are, the stronger and the more respected FIFPro will be. The stronger and more respected FIFPro will be, the stronger you will be!’

 

‘Bravo and thank you all.
Long live FIFPro!’

 

Click here for the entire speech

 

 

 

 

About Philippe Piat

 

The footballer
Position: Centre forward
Professional career: 1963-1973
Professional footballer with AS Cannes, RC Strasbourg, AS Monaco, FC Sochaux, Laval.
250 matches in First Division, 101 goals
Plays for Strasbourg, winners of the Coupe de France: 1966
International amateur

 

A remarkable fact
Philippe Piat once scored 13 penalties in one season, without missing a single one: something no other élite French footballer had ever done before—or has been able to do ever since.

 

The unionist
In 1969, barely six years after entering the world of professional football, Philippe Piat became President of the French National Union of Professional Football Players (UNFP), succeeding Michel Hidalgo, co-founder of FIFPro.

 

From 1992 onward, now a member of FIFPro, he and the other members of this international union supported the Belgian Jean-Marc Bosman, who claimed the contractual freedom that French players had won in 1969, and then, with Philippe Piat as President of the UNFP, defended that freedom with a strike in December 1972.

 

The European Court of Justice, by delivering on 15 December 1995 the famous Bosman ruling, found in favour of the Belgian footballer and his supporters. This marked the beginning of a new era for the international union, and was to prompt FIFPro to “recognize” the players for the first time in 2001, at the FIFPro annual congress, held in Paris and opened by Sepp Blatter.

 

In 2005, Philippe Piat, after having been Secretary-General and one of the Vice-Presidents, became President of FIFPro. His actions led, in particular, to the signature of a historic agreement between FIFPro and FIFA, on 2 November 2006.

 

In 2007, he relinquished world presidency of FIFPro to assume that of Division Europe, while becoming FIFPro Vice-President. A few months later, he was to sign a new Memorandum of Understanding  between Division Europe and UEFA for mutual recognition, reinforced cooperation and dialogue, then in 2008, in Paris, he was a signatory to the agreement on European social dialogue.

 

In October 2013, at the age of 72, Philippe Piat once more became President of FIFPro, while retaining his post as President of French union UNFP—a position he has shared with Sylvain Kastendeuch since December 2006.