Good Governance | Integrity | Athlete Development & Wellbeing | Health & Safety

#WorldPlayersUnited: World Players Association unveils strategy to place the players at the centre of world sport

UNI World Athletes, which brings together 85,000 players across professional sport through more than 100 player associations in over 60 countries, has unveiled its new strategic vision – #WorldPlayersUnited – to ensure the voice of the player is heeded in the running of sport.

This new vision sees UNI World Athletes become the World Players Association.

#WorldPlayersUnited involves placing the voice of the players at the centre of world sport’s decision-making through a powerful strategic focus on three pillars:

Voice – Build the voice of the players and the power of the player association movement.

Dignity – Embed the fundamental rights of the players in world sport.

Humanity – Work to embed the human rights of everyone involved in the delivery of sport, included affected groups such as workers, local communities, journalists and fans.

“#WorldPlayersUnited introduces the organised and highly respected voice of the players and their organisations to the leadership of world sport,” World Players Executive Director Brendan Schwab said.

“In so doing, it envisages a future world of sport that is very different to the one that exists today.”

“Our vision is to champion the dignity of the player and the humanity of sport.”

“We have a three-part goal in the pursuit of this vision. First, the human rights of everyone involved in the delivery of sport must be protected, respected and fulfilled. Second, the same must be true for the players. And, third, the impact of sport must be positive, including in sporting, economic, environmental and cultural terms.”

“The attainment of this goal in full is necessary if sport is to retain its social licence. The future world of sport will therefore be underpinned by adherence to universal principles and international law.”

World Players President Don Fehr, the Executive Director of the National Hockey League Players Association said, “The purpose of World Players is to ensure that the players across sports who have common interests get together and play their role so that the key decisions in world sport that affect them are no longer made without their agreement.”

“As a guiding principle, we hold that all players should be free to negotiate the terms upon which they are involved in world sport, and to be represented by persons and organisations of their choice.”

“The players are very concerned about human rights, very concerned about labour rights and recognise that neither means very much without a prompt and effective remedy.”

World Players Vice President Theo van Seggelen, the Secretary General of FIFPro, the world football players’ union, said, “The world’s footballers are united with players across sport to ensure the rights of all players are respected and that international sport is governed free of corruption, cheating and the abuse of human rights. We will act across the world with solidarity. Players who are members of a player association in one country or sport can rely on the support of World Players and our affiliated player associations.”

The World Players Association is a sector of UNI Global Union and its General Secretary Philip Jennings, who has been instrumental in the development of World Players, praised the new strategy.

“It is incredibly important to see the players of the world organise around both their rights and the rights of everyone involved in sport. The rate of player unionisation is increasing dramatically around the world for both men and women. Everyone involved in sport needs decent work and a fair wage, be they players, construction workers preparing for Mega-Sporting Events or workers involved in sports’ supply chains.”

AFL Players’ Association CEO Paul Marsh says strong player associations are vital to ensure the rights of athletes are protected in what is an increasingly complex landscape.

“While the athletes we represent come from a variety of different backgrounds and our sports are all very different, the challenges we face are very similar. Player Associations exist, no matter what the sport, to improve working conditions for athletes, and the ability to share information and philosophies through the World Players Association is an incredibly powerful tool.”

Click here for more information on the World Players Association strategy

Major player associations affiliated 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)

·         the Japanese Professional Baseball Players Association (JPBPA)

·         the Australian Athletes’ Alliance (AAA)

World Players Executive Committee:

·         Don Fehr (Canada), the Executive Director of the NHLPA (President)

·         Theo van Seggelen (The Netherlands), the Secretary General of FIFPro (First Vice President)

·         Jeff Reymond (France), the General Secretary of EU Athletes (Vice President)

·         Omar Hassanein (Ireland), IRPA Board member and CEO of the Irish Rugby Union Players Association

·         Tony Irish (South Africa), FICA Executive Chairman and CEO of the South African Cricketers’ Association

·         Paul Marsh (Australia), AAA Board member and Australian Football League Players’ Association CEO

·         DeMaurice Smith (United States), the Executive Director of the NFLPA

·         Dejan Stefanovic (Slovenia), FIFPro Board member and president of the Slovenian footballers and athletes union

·         Frederique Winia (The Netherlands), the Director of International Relations of FIFPro

·         Takuya Yamazaki (Japan), Legal Counsel and Board member of the JPBPA

·         Philip Jennings, the General Secretary of the UNI Global Union (ex officio)

UNI Global Union

The World Players Association was formally established in December 2014 as an autonomous sector of UNI Global Union (UNI). It has been known as UNI World Athletes until today’s announcement.

Based in Nyon, Switzerland, UNI represents more than 20 million workers from over 900 trade unions in the fastest growing sectors in the world – skills and services, including media and sport. UNI and its affiliates in all regions are driven by the responsibility to ensure jobs are decent and workers’ rights are protected, including the right to join a union and collective bargaining.