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The Fédération Internationale des Associations de Footballeurs Professionnels (English - International Federation of Professional Footballers), generally referred to as FIFPro, is the worldwide representative organisation for 65,000 professional football players. FIFPro, with its global headquarters in Hoofddorp, Netherlands, is made up of 58 national players' associations. In addition, there are three candidate members and seven observers.
- 1 Brief History
- 2 50th Anniversary: First Meeting 1965
- 3 First FIFPro Board
- 4 Transfer System Challenge
- 5 Current Board
- 6 Members
- 7 FIFA FIFPro World XI
- 8 FIFPro World Player of the Year
- 9 FIFPro Young Player of the Year
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
On 15 December 1965 representatives of the French, Scottish, English, Italian and Dutch players' associations met in Paris, with the objective of setting up an international federation for footballers.
In the second half of June 1966 the first FIFPro congress took place in London, just before the start of the World Championship. The articles of association of FIFPro were thereby adopted and the objectives accurately laid down. FIFPro was responsible for increasing the solidarity between professional football players and players' associations. FIFPro tried to offer the players' associations or other interest associations the means for mutual consultation and co-operation to achieve their objectives. In addition, it wished to co-ordinate the activities of the different affiliated groups in order to promote the interests of all professional football players. Indeed, FIFPro likewise had in mind propagating and defending the rights of professional football players. The emphasis was thereby laid on the freedom of the football player to be able to choose the club of his choice at the end of his contract. It was likewise laid down that FIFPro would be helpful in every required area for setting up interest associations. These are objectives which still apply to this day.
It was originally laid down that a congress would be held once every four years at a minimum - prior to the World Championship. The congress had to uphold the course set out and with a two-third majority vote. The congress is still the most important organ of FIFPro to this very day.
It soon appeared that it was necessary to organize a congress annually, and not to limit this to once every four years. Many congresses have been held in the meantime, such as for example in 1978 in Madrid and in 1979 in Athens and Venice. In the eighties and nineties many memorable congresses have been organized in almost all the large European cities, such as Paris, Athens, Milan, Manchester, Zürich, Ghent, Lisbon, Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Tel Aviv, Rome, Johannesburg, Barcelona, Santiago and Budapest. The latest congress was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in November 2010.
The objectives of FIFPro also mean that not only FIFA applied as a talking partner. UEFA in particular, but also the European parliament and the European Commission appeared to be important points of approach. The national federations also started to become increasingly aware that, in addition to the national players' association, the international trade union FIFPro also played its role.
In recent years, FIFPro has grown from a European organization into a global network. The FIFPro has done much to support countries on other continents - Asia/Oceania, Africa and South America – in their efforts to set up players’ associations. In October 2012, FIFPro welcomed the footballers’ associations of Croatia, Czech Republic, Montenegro and Ukraine as its newest members.
In 2013, FIFPro launched a legal challenge against the transfer system. FIFPro president Phillipe Piat said "the transfer system fails 99% of players around the world, it fails football as an industry and it fails the world's most beloved game". According to FIFPro's European president Bobby Barnes, 28% of the money from a transfer fee is paid to agents, and that many players are not paid on time or at all. He claims this leads to these players being "vulnerable targets of crime syndicates, who instigate match-fixing and threaten the very existence of credible football competitions". Writing for the BBC, Matt Slater said "professional footballers do not enjoy the same freedoms that almost every other EU worker does", and that "players look at US sport, and wonder why their career prospects are still constrained by transfer fees and compensation costs". Barnes argues that "the system encourages speculative, unsustainable, immoral and illegal investment models like third-party ownership of players".
50th Anniversary: First Meeting 1965
On December 15, 1965, representatives from the player associations of England, France, Italy, Netherlands and Scotland assembled in Paris to establish FIFPro.
The abbreviation FIFPro derives from Federation Internationale des Footballeurs Professionnels. Deciding on a name was the first resolution passed that famous day in the former offices of French players’ union, UNFP, at 14, rue du Pont Neuf. In the early days, though, there was a desire to carry the joint names of F.I.F.Pro and I.F.P.F.A. (International Federation of Professional Footballers' Associations).
Finding an operational headquarters was the next point of business. Far from the magnificence of FIFPro House, near Amsterdam, where the organisation is based today, for a new body with very limited resources and no full-time staff at the time, it was agreed to share an office with UNFP on a temporary basis.
The first meeting included the following participants (in alphabetical order):
• Jacques Bertrand • Edmond Biernat • Roger Blanpain • Jean-Claude D’Armenia • Jean-Pierre Destrumelle • Michel Hidalgo • Johnny Hughes • Karel Jansen • Jim Janssen van Raaij • Gerard Kerkum • Cliff Lloyd • Carlo Masera
Legendary French striker, Just Fontaine, then Honarary President of UNFP, who still holds the record for goals scored in a single World Cup (in 1958), offered his apologies for not being able to attend, as did two of his contemporaries, Raymond Kopa and Bruno Bollini.
Jacques Bertrand took the floor and drew up the day’s order of business before handing over to Professor Roger Blanpain, a Belgian-based lawyer and author of several books concerning the rights of professional footballers, who chaired the meeting.
Blanpain’s appointment, described in the official minutes, was partly ‘because of his profound knowledge of English, French, Dutch and German languages,’ a fitting opening remark as this was the birth of a multicultural organisation that is now officially positioned as football’s only global counterpart to world governing body FIFA.
In shaping the statutes of FIFPro, one of the most important resolutions unanimously adopted in 1965 was to embrace the principle of solidarity. It was described as such, ‘The statutes… will take into account the necessity to reassure ties of solidarity between the professional players of the different countries because FIFPro has the aim to coordinate the activity of diverse membership groups in order to promote the moral and material interests of the professional players.’
It was estimated 47,000 French Francs ($8,000 USD) would be needed for start-up costs, of which the Italian players’ association made an immediate contribution of 4,000 French Francs ($680 USD). Others wanted more time to consider what they could afford. Asking union officials, who effectively operated on little more than the smell of an oily rag, for money might explain why Professor Blanpain thought it appropriate to call for a lunch break.
After lunch, with their bellies full and minds relaxed by the odd glass of wine, the English, Scottish and Dutch representatives emptied their pockets by each committing 5,000 French Francs ($850 USD) to FIFPro’s cause. As explained in the official minutes of that meeting, the French offered personnel and office space to start the work.
Finding resources to keep the FIFPro dream alive was a delicate matter that was discussed at length over the course of the nine hours it took to meet in a small, crowded room. Still, some had enough change rattling around to purchase the cigarettes that filled the air with smoke, which lingered persistently with the windows shut to stop the heat from escaping on that brisk winter’s day in the French capital.
It was proposed that national unions would organise matches against each other, while FIFPro would combine these players in an all-star format to try and generate income. One of many ideas. The main target centered on the FIFA World Cup, to ensure players received their fair share of the commercial revenue they help to generate as one of the star attractions of football’s quadrennial event.
Resolution eight mentioned, ‘In order to find the permanent resources to increase the funds of FIFPro, a delegation will ask to be received by the FIFA to obtain a reasonable share of the receipts for the organisation of the World Cup.’
First FIFPro Board
The stage had been set as FIFPro’s leadership structure took shape, with Professor Roger Blanpain nominated as President, flanked by his first Vice President Michel Hidalgo, and Jacques Bertrand took on the roles as Secretary-General and Treasurer who held executive power. These are the three gentlemen whose signatures appear at the bottom of the first ever FIFPro meeting minutes. The full board was as follows:
• Roger Blanpain is nominated President of FIFPro • Michel Hidalgo, President of UNFP France, is nominated first Vice President • John Hughes, Secretary-General of PFA Scotland, is nominated Vice President • Gerard Kerkum, President of VVCS Netherlands, is nominated Vice President • Cliff Lloyd, Secretary-General of PFA England, is nominated Vice President • Carlo Masera, Secretary-General of AIC Italy, is nominated Vice President • Jacques Bertrand, adviser to UNFP France, is nominated Secretary-General and Treasurer, and holds executive power.
It was decided that day to hold the first FIFPro General Assembly in London in the weeks leading up to the 1966 FIFA World Cup, and the recruitment phase was initiated by drawing up a plan to offer existing national unions around the world the chance to join FIFPro. New members required a two thirds majority vote from board members to gain entry. As of 2015, the organisation boasts 58 member countries and others lying in wait.
One of the first agreed tasks was to survey players worldwide to help FIFPro understand the status of professional footballers and how it could best serve them on an international level. Jim Janssen van Raaij, a legal advisor representing VVCS Netherlands, oversaw the process with a commitment made to devise a questionnaire in Dutch, German, English, French, Spanish and Arabic.
A brave new world had opened up as dusk fell. The meeting was adjourned at 6:30pm. A group of determined trade union officials hit the streets of Paris, a short walk from some of the world’s most iconic landmarks: Notre Dame to the east, the Louvre to the west. In the distance, the Eiffel Tower twinkling at night.
A new monument had been built that day along rue du Pont Neuf, one that stands proudly as a shining beacon to all professional footballers worldwide. The entrance to the building where this meeting took place is hard to miss: a beautifully vibrant red wooden door marks the spot. Paris as a foundation city felt right too, where liberté, égalité, and fraternité are values enshrined in French culture and woven into the fabric of FIFPro.
A statement was released to waiting members of the press that highlighted:
‘FIFPro regards itself as the only representative organisation of the national teams of professional footballers. The aim of the organisation is to reassure the ties of solidarity between the professional players in all countries, to coordinate the activitiy of the different member teams, and to intervene to promote and the defend the moral and material interests of the professional players. From now on FIFPro will establish contacts with FIFA in order to promote positive and constructive relations in an atmosphere of collaboration and mutual understanding.’
Transfer System Challenge
Free agency and dismantling a hideous retain and transfer system were key themes at the time of FIFPro's first meeting in 1965. Two years prior to the historic gathering in Paris came the George Eastham case of 1963. Thirty years later, the football world would learn of Jean-Marc Bosman who was backed by FIFPro all the way to his epic victory in the European Court of Justice. All the while, FIFPro has taken, as stated in its principles, ‘an exceptionally critical attitude to any form of transfer system for professional players.’
This issue is very much alive today as the transfer system continues to evolve in a variety of harmful ways. Player rights are repeatedly violated, true freedom denied, and the industry at large is spiraling out of control. Competitive and economic imbalance - the ever-increasing gap between rich and poor - are just some of the fundamental failings that can be directly linked to the transfer system.
As FIFPro celebrates its 50th Anniversary, reliving the day those gentlemen first met in Paris, in 1965, is much more than a history lesson. This journey helps to frame the stark reality of today and FIFPro’s never ending quest to strike a fair balance between players and clubs, an organisational objective which is set to escalate in 2015 and beyond as the ongoing struggle to reform football’s transfer system reaches a critical juncture.
The FIFPro board consists of eleven members, including president Philippe Piat, for the term 2013-2017. He has been president since the FIFPro congress in Ljubljana in October 2013. The board members are:
President: Philippe Piat (UNFP, France)
Deputy Vice President: Rinaldo Martorelli (Fenapaf/Sapesp, Brazil)
Board members Bobby Barnes (PAA, England), Louis Everard (VVCS, Netherlands), Leonardo Grosso (AIC, Italy), David Mayébi, (AFC, Cameroon), Mads Øland, (Spillerforeningen, Denmark), Fernando Revilla (SAFAP, Peru), Dejan Stefanovic (SPINS, Slovenia),
General-Secretary: Theo van Seggelen (Netherlands)
In 1998 for the first time in FIFPro history a board member was elected by the General Assembly.
Founded on December 15, 1965, FIFPro has 58 full members, 2 candidate members and 5 observer members.  Upon graduation to the next level, new members sign an affiliation agreement that promotes loyalty, integrity and fairness as well as principles of good governance, including open and transparent communications, democratic processes, checks and balances, solidarity and corporate social responsibility.
(Not official FIFPro members)
FIFA FIFPro World XI
Each year since 2005 FIFPro invited all professional footballers in the world to compose the best team of the year, named the FIFPro World XI. Every player was requested to pick one goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards.
In 2009 the world players' union joined hands with FIFA. While the format remained the same, the award name changed to the FIFA FIFPro World XI. This became the only team award picked by all professional footballers worldwide. Each year in September, approximately 45,000 voting ballots are sent out to professional footballers' associations that are FIFPro members or candidate members, who are then asked to distribute the forms among all professional football players in their countries. In October these are returned to FIFPro's head office. At the end of November, FIFPro and FIFA together announce the 55-player shortlist, consisting of 5 goalkeepers, 20 defenders, 15 midfielders and 15 forwards.
From 2005 until 2008, FIFPro also asked the footballers to choose the FIFPro Player of the Year. From 2009 on, the election for FIFPro Player of the Year merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year, and in 2010 combined with France Football’s Ballon d'Or into one award, the FIFA Ballon d'Or.
Appearances by player
|1||Lionel Messi||9||2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015||Barcelona|
|Cristiano Ronaldo||9||2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015||Manchester United, Real Madrid|
|3||Andrés Iniesta||7||2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015||Barcelona|
|4||Sergio Ramos||6||2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015||Real Madrid|
|Xavi||6||2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013||Barcelona|
|6||Dani Alves||5||2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015||Barcelona|
|Iker Casillas||5||2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012||Real Madrid|
|John Terry||5||2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009||Chelsea|
|9||Steven Gerrard||3||2007, 2008, 2009||Liverpool|
|Kaká||3||2006, 2007, 2008||Milan|
|Manuel Neuer||3||2013, 2014, 2015||Bayern Munich|
|Gerard Piqué||3||2010, 2011, 2012||Barcelona|
|Carles Puyol||3||2007, 2008, 2010||Barcelona|
|Ronaldinho||3||2005, 2006, 2007||Barcelona|
|Thiago Silva||3||2013, 2014, 2015||Paris Saint-Germain|
Appearances by club
Players in italics have made appearances with multiple clubs, and appearances are separated accordingly.
|1||Barcelona||42||Messi (9), Iniesta (7), Xavi (6), Alves (5), Piqué, Puyol, Ronaldinho (3), Eto'o (2), Neymar, Thuram, Villa, Zambrotta (1)|
|2||Real Madrid||28||Cristiano Ronaldo (7), Ramos (6), Casillas (5), Alonso, Cannavaro, Marcelo, Zidane (2), Di María, Kroos, Modrić (1)|
|3||Milan||10||Kaká (3), Nesta (2), Cafu, Dida, Maldini, Pirlo, Shevchenko (1)|
|4||Chelsea||9||Terry (5), Drogba, Lampard, Makélélé, David Luiz (1)|
|Manchester United||9||Cristiano Ronaldo (3), Vidić (2), Evra, Ferdinand, Rooney, Di María (1)|
|6||Bayern Munich||8||Neuer (3), Lahm (2), Ribéry, Robben, Kroos (1)|
|7||Juventus||6||Buffon (2), Cannavaro, Pogba, Thuram, Zambrotta (1)|
|8||Liverpool||5||Gerrard (3), Torres (2)|
|Paris Saint-Germain||5||Silva (3), Ibrahimović, David Luiz (1)|
|10||Internazionale||3||Lúcio, Maicon, Sneijder (1)|
|Atlético Madrid||1||Falcao (1)|
|Valencia||1||David Villa (1)|
Appearances by nationality
|1||Spain||35||Iniesta (7), Ramos, Xavi (6), Casillas (5), Piqué, Puyol (3), Alonso, Torres (2), Villa (1)|
|2||Brazil||22||Alves (5), Kaká, Ronaldinho, Silva (3), Marcelo (2), Cafu, Dida, Lúcio, David Luiz, Maicon, Neymar (1)|
|3||England||11||Terry (5), Gerrard (3), Ferdinand, Lampard, Rooney (1)|
|4||Argentina||10||Messi (9), Di María (1)|
|5||Italy||9||Cannavaro, Buffon, Nesta (2), Maldini, Pirlo, Zambrotta (1)|
|Portugal||9||Cristiano Ronaldo (9)|
|7||France||8||Zidane (2), Evra, Henry, Makélélé, Pogba, Ribéry, Thuram (1)|
|8||Germany||6||Neuer (3), Lahm (2), Kroos (1)|
|9||Cameroon||2||Samuel Eto'o (2)|
|Serbia||2||Nemanja Vidić (2)|
|Netherlands||2||Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben (1)|
|12||Colombia||1||Radamel Falcao (1)|
|Côte d'Ivoire||1||Didier Drogba (1)|
|Croatia||1||Luka Modrić (1)|
|Sweden||1||Zlatan Ibrahimović (1)|
|Ukraine||1||Andriy Shevchenko (1)|
|1||Europe||85||Croatia (1), England (11), France (8), Germany (6), Italy (9), Netherlands (2), Portugal (9), Serbia (2), Spain (35), Sweden (1), Ukraine (1)|
|2||South America||33||Argentina (10), Brazil (22), Colombia (1)|
|3||Africa||3||Cameroon (2), Côte d'Ivoire (1)|
FIFPro World Player of the Year
|2008||Cristiano Ronaldo||Manchester United|||
FIFPro Young Player of the Year
|2005||Wayne Rooney||Manchester United|||
FIFPro granted this award between 2005–2008, after which it was discontinued.
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