The PFA is one of the 44 member countries of FIFPro, the World Players’ Union, having joined in 2000. FIFPro is the global representative organisation for professional footballers and is based in the Netherlands.
Affiliation to FIFPro, the global collective voice of the players, is one of the PFA’s most important strategic alliances, both from a political perspective and also because of FIFPro’s international network. Members of the PFA, including overseas-based players, enjoy the support of players’ associations in the other FIFPro member countries.
As the driving force behind FIFPro’s Asian Division, the PFA conducts and coordinates most of FIFPro’s developmental work in the region, which also encompasses Oceania. Brendan Schwab is the Chairman of FIFPro Asia.
FIFPRO CONGRESS 2008
FIFPro convened its 2008 Congress in Santiago, Chile from 6-8 November 2008. FIFPro president Gerardo Movilla chaired the Congress with the assistance of Secretary General Theo van Seggelen. Resolutions were passed to safeguard the welfare of players and the game.
Among the important decisions that were made at the Congress were:
FIFPRO AND THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF PLAYERS
FIFA Circular 1171 – Professional Football Player Contract Minimum Requirements
In November 2008, FIFA submitted this Circular to its member associations, which contained the minimum requirements for standard player contracts. This is to be used as a guideline in all professional leagues to ensure coverage of the fundamental rights, duties and obligations of the contracting parties, namely the player and the club.
These minimum contract requirements are to be implemented alongside the establishment of National Dispute Resolution Chambers (NDRC) in FIFA member countries.
FIFPro are working with both their members and its four continental Divisions to establish both the minimum contractual requirements in standard player contracts as well as NDRCs in the targeted nations, whose clubs have consistently reneged on their contractual obligations with players. Australia meets these standards under the agreements between FFA and the PFA.
FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC)
Brendan Schwab has been appointed by FIFA as a member of the FIFA DRC for a four-year term (2009 – 2013) commencing in September. He is one of two Asian player representatives on the DRC. The other is Takuya Yamazaki, legal counsel for the Japanese PFA.
The DRC was established by world football’s governing body in 2001, specifically to provide players and clubs with a tribunal to adjudicate upon disputes within the football framework.
The PFA has always been represented on the DRC, ever since its inception. Brendan Schwab served on the inaugural DRC back in 2002, whilst former PFA boss, John Didulica, was a member from 2005 to 2008.
The DRC comprises 24 members from 20 different nations from around the world appointed on the basis of recommendations from FIFPro member associations and the FIFA Confederations.
Half the members represent the interests of the players and the other half are appointed to represent the interests of clubs. The independent chairman of the DRC is Slim Aloulou from Tunisia.
Almost all Australian and foreign players represented by the PFA in DRC cases have been successful in their claims against various clubs from around the world.
World Anti-Doping Code
As noted earlier, the serious implications of the ‘Athletes’ Whereabouts’ clause in the 2009 World Anti-Doping Code (WADA), which stipulates that all players must inform the relevant authorities of their whereabouts and observe a one hour time slot, which FIFPro calls a ‘one hour house arrest’, is being legally challenged in Belgium.
Under this clause, if a player fails to heed this requirement and is not at home on three consecutive occasions when the drug-testers visit his or her home within an 18 month period, a suspension of between 1-2 years would be meted out.
A group of 65 Belgian athletes including footballers (all of whom are indirect members of Sporta, Belgium’s peak body for professional athletes’ associations, similar to Australia’s AAA) are challenging this rule under Belgian law, claiming it contravenes EU privacy laws.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter continues to lobby for the implementation of the ‘6+5’ Rule but there are still concerns from many parties including FIFPro and UEFA that this rule contravenes EU law.
Under the rule, at the start of every match, a club has to field a minimum of 6 players who would be eligible to play for the national team of the country the club is based in.
A recent study by the Institute for European Affairs (INEA), which was commissioned by FIFA, concluded that the rule was compatible with the prevailing legislation. However, the European Parliament rejected this rule in May 2009 and the EU even deemed it illegal in the eyes of the law, which prohibits overt discrimination based on nationality.
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