WASHINGTON—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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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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The World Players Association today launched a landmark standard to underpin holistic player and athlete development and wellbeing across the globe. The World Player Development, Wellbeing, Transition and Retirement Standard, Paris 2017 (Standard) addresses the acute need for sport to raise its investment in players as people as well as athletes.
Being thrust into an ever-more demanding and competitive environment at an increasingly young age, players can often struggle to develop an identity outside of their sporting personas. This can negatively impact players’ mental health, resilience and ability to successfully transition during and after their sporting careers. It can also substantially undermine athletic performance.
To address these issues, the Standard places the personal development, wellbeing and safety of players at the centre of sport. It:
- Sets the benchmark for the world of sport regarding the value it places on developing players and athletes holistically
- Serves as a tool for player associations in the negotiation and design of player development and wellbeing programs in partnership with sporting bodies, leagues and clubs
- Elevates and enhances the essential role of Player Development Managers (PDMs) in sport. PDMs, who are commonly employed by player associations, excel in tailoring personal development and wellbeing programs to the individual needs of each player.
“For the first time, world sport has a comprehensive set of minimum conditions to safeguard and resource the personal development and wellbeing of professional athletes. The Standard will both improve and expand player development and wellbeing programs, a key area in which many sports can invest more,” said Brendan Schwab, Executive Director of the World Players Association.
The Standard has been developed by the 75 player development and wellbeing experts including PDMs and program leaders who participated in the 2017 World Player Development Conference held earlier in Paris in April. It takes into account the research, experience and learnings of player associations from around the world who have been running cutting edge development and wellbeing programs since the 1990s.
“Player input into the Standard has been absolutely critical. It is often the player associations and PDMs who are closest to the players and most familiar with the personal challenges they confront day in and day out, ” said Omar Hassanein, Chief Executive Officer of the International Rugby Players’ Association and chair of the World Player Development Steering committee.
The Standard is guided by the principles that player development and wellbeing is a matter of occupational safety and health and that sport owes the players a duty of care. On this basis, the World Players Association looks forward to engaging with sporting organisations and employers regarding the adoption and implementation of the Standard.
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(Kazan, Russia) The World Players Association today commended UNESCO for highlighting the essential need to safeguard player rights as a cornerstone of any effective approach to protecting the integrity of sport. Further, World Players called upon global sport to adopt a binding policy to embed the human rights of players.
“Integrity in sport as end can only be arrived at through means which themselves are underpinned by integrity,” World Players Association Executive Director Brendan Schwab told the expert forum on protecting the integrity of sport at the Sixth International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport (MINEPS VI).
“And respect for the internationally recognised human rights of the players, workers, spectators and other groups involved in sport is essential if any effort to protect the integrity of sport is to be legitimate and effective.”
To that effect the World Players Association released a new policy today which seeks to ensure that the fundamental rights of players are protected, respected and guaranteed. The World Player Rights Policy articulates the urgent need for international sporting organisations (ISOs) and other relevant sport stakeholders to adopt a player rights policy and spells out the necessary commitments and obligations which any such policy must contain.
“Professional players are subject to extraordinary and complex regulations which deliberately fall outside the scope of national labour law. In the absence of a legal framework to protect them players are left alone in dealing with the considerable risks of their sporting careers. Therefore, sport must commit to put in place reliable and trustworthy processes which protect and uphold the rights of its fundamental stakeholders”, said Schwab.
The player rights commitments laid out in the World Player Rights Policy are built around sport’s implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). The UNGPs are a global standard designed to assist business enterprises to avoid adverse impacts on the rights of others and to address such impacts if they occur. They rest on the three-pillar “Protect, Respect and Remedy” framework which requires the adoption of a human rights policy, ongoing due diligence, access to an effective remedy, and transparent reporting.
The commitments and obligations of the World Player Rights Policy provide a similar framework for ISOs enabling them to protect the human rights of the players and to honour core ILO conventions. The failure to respect the fundamental labour rights of players is among a number of risks the new policy identifies as salient which also include the denial to freely access and enjoy sport with equal opportunity. Other identified risks are trafficking, unsafe working conditions, and insufficient data protection.
“Professor John Ruggie’s 2016 report on FIFA convincingly demonstrated how ISOs in their dual role as competition organisers and regulatory bodies should apply the UNGPs to all of their dealing”, added Schwab. “With its recently published Human Rights Policy FIFA has made important progress towards meeting the requirements of the World Player Rights Policy and can make further strides provided its engagement with FIFPro continues to expand.”
The World Players Association is committed to engage with all stakeholders who control sport – ISOs, national sporting organisations, leagues, employers, business and government – to bring the World Player Rights Policy to life and to work in partnership with them to ensure an international sporting environment that is well governed and committed to guaranteeing the fundamental rights of everyone involved in sport, including the players.
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