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Division Africa's Secretary-General Stéphane Burchkalter, Communications Director Stéphane Saint-Raymond and board member Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe went to meet the four unions that have been organized in Southern Africa (in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe) and are recognized by FIFPro. A grand tour, rich in useful lessons and testifying to constant progress in the recognition of the rights of professional footballers…

 

The decision was made at the Division Africa meeting in Tel Aviv last November, while preparing for the FIFPro congress. Secretary-General Stéphane Burchkalter then undertook to visit all of the countries of Southern Africa, to meet the national unions and their staff, and to assess the impact of their actions on the various political and sporting authorities and, above all else, on the players.

 

In these countries, with their Anglo-Saxon culture, the trade union tradition is much more securely anchored than elsewhere. So, although not all the agreements have yet been signed, it was no surprise to see that the different players' associations have been warmly welcomed and are either officially recognized by the political and sporting authorities, as in South Africa, or are on the way to that status.

 

First stop: Harare. The Footballers' Union of Zimbabwe (FUZ), a candidate member, had put together a full programme: a visit to the Minister for Information and the Media, a meeting with the President of the Federation, the national selector and the Secretary-General of the Professional League, a visit to the Union's offices inside the national stadium, not forgetting meetings with players during training sessions and at Union headquarters.

 

Second stop: Namibia. Here, too, the idea was to meet as many responsible politicians (the Sports Minister) and sporting figures (representatives of the Federation and the Professional League) as possible, as well as a great many players. A visit to the offices of the Namibia Football Players Union (NAFPU), a candidate member, was also on the programme.

 

‘Whether in Zimbabwe or Namibia’, explains Stéphane Burchkalter, ‘it's obvious that players' associations, recognized by FIFPro, now have their legitimate place and form an integral part of the landscape. The authorities are firmly resolved to work on good terms with the representatives of the players, and the footballers themselves identify completely with the actions of their union.’

 

In Botswana, the third stop, things are a little different, which is explained by the observer status of the Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB). Burchkalter: ‘Although we weren't able to meet representatives of the Federation, our meeting with the head of the Professional League was particularly fruitful, and our meetings with players were very instructive. It was very clear to us that the door was wide open and that there was a real intention to work with the players' representatives.’

 

‘That is particularly positive and encouraging for an association that is absolutely determined to continue on the path of progress and professionalization. The loyalty of the players is genuine, and that's why I encouraged the members of the FUB to get themselves an office as soon as possible…’

 

Last stop: South Africa. Less a working visit than a courtesy call on a well established union that's been a member of FIFPro for many years. The union is soon going to move house and set itself up in brand new premises, but there's no question of its resting on its laurels.

 

The South African Football Players Union (SAFPU) certainly intends to keep on setting an example in the South of a continent where - to say the least! - things are developing rapidly in the interests of professional footballers.

 

 

Elliot Kasu, financial director of FA Zimbabwe, receives representatives of FUZ and FIFPro

 

Kennedy Ndebele, Premier League secretary general, welcomes FUZ and FIFPro

 

  

Representatives of FIFPro and NAFPU talked with Jackey Gertze (board member FA Namibia) and Tovev Hoebeb (Premier League chief executive)

 

The Namibian Minister of Youth and Culture, Phamba Shiveta, welcomed the delegations of FIFPro and NAFPU, who were accompanied by Bernard Kaanjuka (Director of Sports/selector of the national team)

 

A delegation of FIFPro and FUB meets representatives of the Premier League Botswana