Important developments occurring at FIFPro, the World Footballers’ Association representing over 65 thousand professional players in 58 member countries.
- Proposal: players free to terminate contracts after 30 days of non-payment
- Concrete measures for immediate implementation of worldwide TPO ban
- Unanimous resolution to overhaul the transfer system adopted
Contractual stability, sanctions against clubs that fail to pay players on time, the implementation of a worldwide third-party ownership (TPO) ban, and a resolution unanimously adopted to continue the fight to fundamentally reform football's failing transfer system were among the most important issues addressed during the FIFPro General Assembly in Tokyo, Japan.
FIFPro, the World Footballers' Association, is targeting concrete measures that ensure no club can be late in meeting its contractual obligations to players. The proposed deal on overdue payables is set to usher in a new and improved era of accountability.
FIFPro is negotiating a change to the regulations that would see a club sanctioned and a player entitled to terminate his contract and be free to seek employment elsewhere after 30 days of non-payment. The coming months will be crucial as FIFPro looks to finalise a deal on overdue payables, with a target date for implementation to be no later than March, 2015.
FIFPro Secretary-General Theo van Seggelen said: "Respect for contracts and treating professional footballers like any other employee in a normal workplace environment is not too much to ask, is it?"
"That is what we have on the table here, a proposal that holds clubs accountable after 30 days of non-payment. This is more than fair as the players are currently abused by a flawed system that effectively allows clubs to be up to 90 days in arrears before any consequences kick in."
FIFPro holds a firm view that contractual stability is paramount and that the consequences in the event of a breach must be fair and balanced for both players and clubs. This is not the case at present and it is one of FIFPro's primary concerns that underpins the challenge to reform the transfer system.
The broad principles of FIFPro's approach to the prohibition of TPO include a worldwide ban taking effect as soon as possible and for any transitional period to involve the registration of existing TPO arrangements, which could then be implemented provided that they are not in breach of any existing regulation including FIFA's current ban on third party influence.
FIFPro states these are conditions that must be strictly observed and sanctions applied to parties who fail to comply by an agreed date. Van Seggelen said: "We are acting fast to ensure thetransitional period and the terms of contracts signed before or during this period do not become loopholes that substantially delay or defeat the TPO ban.”
“We know the ban is in the overall economic interests of football. Accordingly, clubs must use any transitional period to move to a more sustainable economic model, rather than to delay the ban from taking effect."
The FIFA Working Group dedicated to TPO, which includes representatives from FIFPro, is yet to agree when the worldwide TPO ban will officially take effect. The expectation is May, 2015, and FIFPro has made it clear to the working group that it would strongly resist any later implementation.
Update: transfer system overhaul
The evolving strategy to overhaul the transfer system was unanimously endorsed during last week's FIFPro General Assembly in Tokyo. FIFPro insists that any meaningful attempt to rectify the failings of the transfer system must involve entrenching genuine stability of contracts for both clubs and players through reforms of Articles 14 to 17 of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players.
Almost a year on since FIFPro's decision to legally challenge the transfer system should talks fail to deliver the needed reforms, negotiations with FIFA, UEFA, ECA (European Clubs' Association) and the EPFL (European Professional Football Leagues) have reached a critical phase.
In January, the most crucial aspect of FIFPro's concerns relating to the transfer system will be raised when the Working Group for Players' Status matters turns its attention to Articles 14 to 17 of the FIFA regulations.
FIFPro is committed to finding a fair balance between employers and employees in the interests of safeguarding the long-term financial sustainability and growth of football. To achieve this, the transfer system must be addressed. FIFPro is very critical of the current regulations for they invite widespread abuse such as TPO and huge payments to intermediaries. The system harms football as a sport and business whereby competitions have become increasingly predictable, and it promotes a reckless and inflationary economic climate which only benefits a very small percentage of the world's most powerful clubs.
FIFPro is the international federation of trade unions made up of 58 member countries and over 65 thousand professional footballers worldwide. For more information, contact FIFPro Communications and visit www.fifpro.org.