World Players Association launches the Universal Declaration of Player Rights

World Players Association launches the Universal Declaration of Player Rights

The world’s leading player association executives—collectively representing more than 85,000 players and athletes—will announce a Universal Declaration of Player Rights (Declaration) on 14 December 2017 in Washington, D.C. The Declaration will address the persistent, systemic and long-standing violations of players’ fundamental rights throughout world sport. It is the first framework ever that explicitly articulates the internationally recognised human and labour rights of players across the world.

The unveiling of the Declaration will be part of a gathering of the world’s largest and most influential player associations. In attendance and available for interviews will be 30 of the world’s leading player union executives from a variety of sports including football, basketball, rugby, cricket, baseball and ice hockey:

  • Brendan Schwab (Switzerland), Executive Director of the World Players Association
  • DeMaurice Smith (United States), Executive Director of the NFLPA and World Players Executive Committee member
  • Don Fehr (Canada), Executive Director of the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) and President of the World Players Association
  • Theo van Seggelen (The Netherlands), Secretary-General of FIFPro and World Players Vice President
  • Paulina Tomczyk (Belgium), Secretary-General-elect of the European Elite Athletes Association

“The Declaration fills a glaring gap. In the rule books of world sport there are thousands of pages detailing onerous obligations, but not one that coherently spells out the internationally recognised human rights of the athletes,” said Brendan Schwab. “The result has been the widespread and sometimes tragic violation of the rights of the world’s players. The Declaration makes clear that the rights of players can no longer be ignored and athletes must be able to quickly access justice to ensure their fundamental rights are protected, respected and upheld.”

Athletes around the world should not have to accept violations to their basic human and labor rights just because of their profession.  We should want athletes to be involved and ready to stand for important issues in their community in the same way everyone should want athletes to have the same rights to fairness and safe working conditions of other workers. Unions are the only organizations to make this a reality and we are proud to host our brothers and sisters from across the world for this important meeting,” said DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) and Executive Committee member of World Players.

In recent years, the need for the Declaration has become abundantly clear. Scandals have exposed corruption in international sport as well as rampant inequality, discrimination and abuse in professional and development leagues. The Declaration also builds on the more than 50 years of experience of generations of players who have organised through player associations so that they can increasingly access and pursue sport free of discrimination, in keeping with their fundamental human and labour rights and, where needed, have swift and effective access to justice.

The World Players Association brings together 85,000 players across professional sport through more than 100 player associations in over 60 countries. Major player associations belonging to World Players include:

  • FIFPro, the world football players’ union
  • the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA)
  • the International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA)
  • the European Elite Athletes’ Association (EU Athletes)
  • the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA)
  • the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA)
  • the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA)
  • the Japanese Professional Baseball Players Association (JPBPA)
  • the Australian Athletes’ Alliance (AAA).

The World Players Association was formally established on 5 December 2014 an autonomous sector of UNI Global Union (UNI), who represents 20 million skills and service workers in 150 countries.

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Mark and Niels’ victory over ISU at the European Commission

Mark and Niels’ victory over ISU at the European Commission

EU Athletes welcomes the decision of the European Commission that International Skating Union (ISU) rules imposing severe penalties on athletes participating in unauthorized speed skating competitions are in breach of EU antitrust law. As a consequence, the ISU must now change these rules.

This landmark ruling is a result of a courageous decision of two Dutch speed skaters, Mark Tuitert and Niels Kerstholt to challenge their federation’s (ISU) eligibility rules. The decision, announced on Friday the 8th of December, confirms that the ISU abused its dominant market position by imposing unfair and disproportionately punitive rules in order to enable the ISU to pursue its own commercial interests to the detriment of athletes and organizers of competing events.

EU Athletes has been supporting Mark and Niels through the #chancetocompete campaign and by representing the interest of all the European athletes that are or might be affected by similar rules imposed by their sport governing bodies.

We would like to congratulate and thank Mark and Niels for taking this difficult journey which now can significantly improve the situation of athletes around the World. Congratulations also to Ben Van Rompuy and his team for their impressive and successful legal work and representation.

We would also like to express our gratitude to the European Commission and Commissioner Margrethe Vestager for taking on this important case and rendering a wise decision, showing the sport governing bodies that they are not above the law.

For Jean-François Reymond, the General Secretary of EU Athletes: “We are extremely happy with this decision. The Olympic movement’s attempts to put political pressure on the Commission have not unduly affected the outcome of the hearing. This landmark ruling shows that the specificity of sport cannot be used as an excuse to gain commercial benefit at the expense of athletes”.

Brendon Batson OBE, the President of EU Athletes, added: “Sport governing must operate within the European legal framework and we are pleased that the European Commission has taken this important step. We hope that the sport organizations will now recognize that they cannot unilaterally decide on athletes’ situation and that there is an urgent need for them to engage in a partnership with independent athlete organizations.”

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EU Athletes at Play the Game 2017: Riding waves of change

EU Athletes at Play the Game 2017: Riding waves of change

Play the Game is a biannual conference addressing a number of challenges to modern sport, such as corruption in sports organizations, match-fixing, doping, unsustainable mega-events and the need for more active sports participation policies. Play the Game 2017 “Riding the waves of change” gathers almost 450 journalists, scientists and sport officials on the 26-30th of November in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

EU Athletes Policy Officer Paulina Tomczyk has taken part in the panel “Reform in sport: An inside job or an outside intervention?”, highlighting in the speech the fundamental role of good governance in sport for athletes and the need for their equal participation in the reform process as well as the risks of uncontrolled and unconditional “autonomy” of sport organizations brings.

In the session “Athletes and Anti-Doping: Privacy and Participation” Paulina has also presented “Study of Monitoring Practices of European National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs)”. This research project, completed by Paulina together with Walter Palmer and Jeff Reymond, highlights poor reporting practices (low availability of the annual reports and fragmented data included) of European anti-doping organizations.

More information on the Play the Game 2017, including photos and videos from the sessions, is available on the website.

Photos: Thomas Søndergaard/Play the Game

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PROtect Integrity Wrap-up Meeting

PROtect Integrity Wrap-up Meeting

The staff of our Erasmus+ “2016 PROtect Integrity” project met last week in Amsterdam for the final project meeting. The main goal of the meeting was to review and evaluate the project so far and discuss the remaining actions, including the ongoing research, led by prof. David Forrest and based on responses collected from players’ questionnaires, aiming to evaluate the integrity education delivered by player association during team visits. The paper and other outputs of the project will be published before the end of the year.

Besides project’s main focus on delivering face-to-face integrity education to 15 000 players in Europe, the project has included many other activities and positive developments, such as successful #PROtectIntegrity social media campaign, meetings covering specific issues as well as dialogue and cooperation with essential stakeholders.

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Declaration on Safeguarding the Rights of Child Athletes

Declaration on Safeguarding the Rights of Child Athletes

The World Players Association has released a “Declaration on Safeguarding the Rights of Child Athletes” to help protect children participating in sport from growing concerns over the early professionalisation of child athletes and the violation of their fundamental rights, including sexual abuse and trafficking.

“In the quest for medals and new records, we tend to forget that child athletes are children first and athletes second. They must have opportunities to freely play and fully develop instead of having their identities narrowed early in the pursuit of sporting excellence”, Brendan Schwab, Executive Director of the World Players Association, said today.

Recent reports revealing widespread sexual abuse have led World Players and its affiliates to increase their focus on safeguarding the fundamental rights of children in sport.

The “Declaration on Safeguarding the Rights of Child Athletes” places the best interests of the child as the guiding principle for any involvement of children in sport. It sets out key principles and action areas in which sport’s stakeholders must work together to ensure sport is always a safe space for children.

The “Declaration on Safeguarding the Rights of Child Athletes” also provided the basis for a joint statement of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for Sport and Active Leisure, where EU Athletes and its members represent the professional sub-sector, signed at its plenary meeting on the 8th of November in Brussels.

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