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"We consider this to be a breakthrough". FIFPro welcomes the fact that the Slovenian parliament submitted a law proposal that gives professional footballers and other athletes in Slovenia the opportunity to contribute to a career fund.

After six years of efforts and countless discussions at non-governmental and governmental level with three different governments, the Slovenian Athletes Union (SSS) and the Union of professional football players of Slovenia (SPINS) succeeded in submitting a law proposal on so-called bridging insurance funds (also known as career or pension funds) for professional athletes, to the Slovenian National Parliament.

Said SPINS President Dejan Stefanovic: "It has to be explained that this is the first legislative initiative, after Slovenia's independence in 1991, which recognises the specific status of professional athletes and improves the tax situation and social treatment of Slovenian athletes".

A majority of the parliamentary parties, led by MP Jozef Kavticnik, supports the proposal. Kavticnik summarises the essence of the law: "This pension scheme (Law on bridging insurance for professional athletes) gives professional athletes the opportunity to contribute to a special fund while they are still active. At the end of their careers they will receive their savings. It is very important that in the transitional period, after the end of their careers, when deciding what to do in life ahead, they are financially secure".

In comparison with the career of a "regular worker", the career of a professional athlete is extremely short – it ends at approximately 35 years of age. This is the time when most professional athletes need to begin a new stage in life. This could be a testing moment, especially when the former player might not find the right ideas or opportunities for new challenges.

One of the main goals of the proposed document, inspired by solutions of some European countries, is to ease the bridging period between the end of the athlete's sporting career and his "second" career. In a lot of European countries the so-called bridging funds are already well-established facilities. There is also an aspect of the athletes' social security, which can be often compromised in that transitional period of life.

The draft law provides that contributions of individuals are collected at individual accounts in the fund savings. The proposal also specifies among other things the creation of the fund, the governing rules, and control over the management and operations of the fund.

Athletes can use their "savings" after the set age of 35. Those savings can be paid in a monthly amount or as a lump sum payment. In the case of the athletes' career ending prematurely – due to injury or other medical reasons – the law provides the possibility of exemption, of course decided by a special commission.

High on FIFPro's priority list

FIFPro Division Europe Secretary General Theo van Seggelen considers the Slovenian career fund to be a breakthrough. "The establishment of a career fund is high on FIFPro's priority list. A player's career is short and numbers show that 95 percent of all players need to begin a "second" career after their active career as a professional footballer has ended. They need time and money to bridge the gap between those careers".

"Career funds are a common feature in Western Europe, but not in Eastern Europe. Therefore, I am proud and delighted that our colleagues in Slovenia are on the verge of establishing a career fund. I hope Slovenia will be an example for all other countries in Eastern Europe".

"FIFPro Division Europe will discuss the Slovenian career fund as a best practice during the Social Dialogue Working Group on Career Funds. If a career fund can be established in Slovenia, then all other countries must be able to introduce their own funds".