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FIFPro has met with football authorities in Turkey to push for improved conditions in one of the most precarious countries for professional footballers, and seek to help an ethnic Turkish player who has been reportedly detained in China.

FIFPro general secretary Theo van Seggelen said he was pleased by the progress of the Turkish player association (TPFA) since it was reformed by in 2015 by former national-team players led by Hakan Ünsal. “It is encouraging to see the commitment of Hakan and his colleagues, they are doing valuable work for professional footballers,” Van Seggelen said.

FIFPro also met with Turkish federation executive Cengiz Zülfikaroglu to discuss concerns about how Turkey has fallen behind other countries on employment standards for players. Turkish football has the highest number of complaints by foreign players - about one every two weeks, on average - at FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber, according to FIFPro data.

At the same time, the Turkish federation has not yet implemented a standard employment contract, guaranteeing basic rights for players, and its own Dispute Resolution Chamber for local footballers does not comply with FIFA guidelines on impartiality,or enabling players to file claims for free.

“It is time Turkish football starts to do a much better job at basic governance so players do not have to routinely go to court to resolve pay disputes with their clubs,” Van Seggelen said. hakan theo 325

“We are sure that after the meeting the federation is aware that players and player unions have a key role to play in the delicate balance between football stakeholders,” Ünsal said.

On the visit to Istanbul, FIFPro was also updated by the Turkish players association on the situation of footballer Erfan Hezim. The 19-year-old was reportedly taken to a “political re-education camp” in February for “visiting foreign countries” when he returned home to China from a trip to Spain and Dubai.

The young player is a Uyghur, a Turkish ethnic group in China which Human Rights Watch says is closely monitored by Chinese authorities.

Also known as Ye Erfan, the young striker is one of China’s most promising players and last year signed a 5-year contract with Chinese Super League team Jiangsu Suning. Erfan’s photograph still appears on Jiangsu Suning’s website but, according to Human Rights Watch, he has not played or trained with the team since February.

Top photo: Turkish flags laid out on seats before an international match at the Antalya stadium. Credit: VI Images.

Lower photo: TPFA president Hakan Ünsal (left) and FIFPro general secretary Theo van Seggelen in Istanbul. Credit: TPFA.