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A guide to the World Players Association’s Universal Declaration of Player Rights

Gavel in front of books
Friday, 16 February 2018 By Matthew Kaiser

2017 was an exciting year of progress for human rights proponents, particularly in the world of sports. For example, many significant sports organizations, such as the International Olympic Committee, FIFA, and UEFA, began to explicitly incorporate human rights protections into their policies and contracts.1 This momentum culminated on 14 December 2017, when the World Players Association published a historic document aimed at protecting athletes from “ongoing and systematic human rights violations in global sport2 called the Universal Declaration of Player Rights3 (Universal Declaration).

As the first comprehensive articulation of athletes’ rights, the Universal Declaration was developed over a two-year span by various constituents: more than 100 player associations provided input into the Universal Declaration, it was reviewed by human and labor rights experts, and players provided feedback through surveys.4 The Universal Declaration consists of 17 fundamental points, which encompass four distinct rights:

  1. Access to sport (and in particular protection for minors and sport without discrimination)

  2. Labor rights

  3. Personal rights, and

  4. Legal rights

Together, these four categories aim to identify and formalize rights to address the most prevalent problems currently facing athletes in their pursuit to play professionally, regardless of the sport or even the country.

This article reviews the key points of the Universal Declaration.

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Matthew Kaiser

Matthew Kaiser

Matthew D. Kaiser is an associate at Global Sports Advocates and has worked with and represented athletes in a variety of legal issues from challenging disciplinary sanctions and doping violations to protecting athletes’ intellectual property rights.

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