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PFA England Chief Executive and Honorary President of FIFPro, Gordon Taylor OBE addressed the General Assembly of FIFPro Division Europe, on Wednesday 10 June 2015 in Bulgaria.

"The time has come for players and their unions to seize the moment, grab the baton and bring a breath of fresh air, integrity and solid sensible leadership in keeping with and deserving of the greatest game in the world."

 

Dear FIFPro colleagues,

It is 50 years since FIFPro was formed, 50 years in which the game of professional football has developed and advanced, led by our influence, into the world's most successful participant and spectator sport. It enjoys wealth and status due to the efforts of our members and their abilities on the field of play for both live fans and armchair fans.

Our player unions have contradicted right wing arguments that Collective Bargaining and Trade Unions are bad for business! Through such Collective Bargaining with our National Leagues, National Federations, UEFA and FIFA we have removed maximum wages, established freedom of contract, developed pension schemes, medical research for the health and safety of our members, insurance against injury, help for former players, and education for life after football. We have to continue to protect our players' contracts introducing embargos on any new signings by clubs if wages have not been paid. If clubs fold and try to start up again monies owed to players and clubs must be paid. We must stop the exploitation of the transfer system by agents and 3rd party ownership. Above all else we have shown we are worthy custodians of the game when it is in our hands, developing and caring for the grassroots of the game, apprentice systems, youth development and a social responsibility programme effectively campaigning against racism, sexism, anti-semitism, islamophobia, homophobia and disability using football as a force for good in our societies.

Now the game has been tainted and besmirched with corruption at the highest level by custodians who have 'feathered their own nests' with monies meant to be used for facilities, pitches and players all over the world. The time is here to clean out the corruption and to place ourselves at the Top Table as guardians of the game. Our record is one of transparency not opaqueness, accountability not of obfuscation. We adhere to rules or change them openly through negotiations or by the law of the land. We believe in monitoring, appraising and assessing the projects we set out to deliver from start to finish.

Never has there been a better or more opportune time. We cannot and must not leave a vacuum in FIFA to be filled with the same toxic problems as before. If we do not intervene now we will forever regret it. We have matured and are ready, our models will work in FIFA as they have in our own countries. We can start by recognising that if we do not do it and get to the high table it will be left to government organisations like WADA, Interpol, the FBI, Justice Departments and the Inland Revenue. A game for players about players has NOT been run by players and we are now seeing the results.

There is much to change in the organisation of FIFA. It feels that even the location of its headquarters in a country where anonymity and secrecy prevail sets the wrong tone. It must be noted the investigation into this corruption, which has been known about for many years, has been led by the United States justice system rather than the Swiss Police.

The way the World Cup venues have been chosen must change so that the process is transparent, incorrupt, fair and not wasting millions in a sham contest for venues laced with corruption. There needs to be complete accountability of all FIFA's incomings and outgoings by an independent, unbridled organisation and all salaries published with nothing capable of being hidden or lost.

All this can be done as it was with the Olympics but players' voices must be heard and listened to as they are the constant throughout football's pyramid and the stronger their voice the better the game will be in the future.

The time has come for players and their unions to seize the moment, grab the baton and bring a breath of fresh air, integrity and solid sensible leadership in keeping with and deserving of the greatest game in the world in the name of our forefathers.