FIFPro, the World Players’ Union, has released the findings of its first worldwide survey of working conditions in professional football.
The 2016 FIFPro Global Employment Report looks at the life of players in a way that has never been done before.
The aim of the survey, carried out amongst a cross section of its membership by PFA Scotland, is to raise awareness of the realities faced by footballers – especially those who are not among the elite at the top of the sport – with a view to better understanding and improving conditions in the industry.
Independently assessed by the University of Manchester, the survey is based on feedback from nearly 14,000 current players in 54 countries and 87 leagues in Europe, the Americas and Africa.
The survey was filled in in a strictly confidetial manner meaning no player could be identified so they were able to be as truthful as possible with their answers.
Players were asked to respond to 23 questions, covering topics such as salaries, contracts, transfers, training, matchfixing, violence, job security, health, well-being and education.
Amongst the key findings in Scotland were:
- 36% of players had less than 10 days paid holidays
- 19% are unsatisfied with medical support
- 14% are insecure about unemployment as footballer
- 35% have been threatened by fans (34% relates to match day abuse)
- 28% have been bullied or harassed (by fans, club staff or players)
A full breakdown of Scotland’s results can be found here (https://www.fifpro.org/news/first-global-employment-report-unveiled/en/)
Fraser Wishart, Chief Executive of PFA Scotland, said: “I would like to thank those players in Scotland who took part in this historic research. For a trade union evidence such as this cannot be questioned and helps us as we push to improve the conditions for our members.
“From a Scottish perspective the findings on annual leave and lack of medical support are of no surprise. We have raised this as an industrial matter with the SPFL, but are repeatedly told that there is no appetite from the clubs to come to an agreement with PFA Scotland about the employment conditions of our members.
“Our door is always open for discussions, but for the moment we will have to continue pressing forward with legal action when our members’ statutory rights are being breached.
“What has been made clear by our members is that some supporters over step the mark when shouting abuse at them. Being a footballer of course means that fans will boo and jeer, that is all part of the game. However, for a footballer his work place is the field of play and, like any other workers, players should be able to do their work without shouts and chanting of a discriminatory or abusive nature being hurled at them.
“We are approaching 2017, and what was deemed acceptable many years ago is not now. What we in Scotland call “banter” and comment about a player’s performance are of course fine, but today’s players are not willing to accept threatening, abusive or discriminatory chants and comment as part of our game.
“This is a hugely significant survey of footballers worldwide. Evidence from an academic survey such as this cannot be ignored by football’s governing bodies across the globe.
“Whilst its findings will surprise some people, those involved within the FIFPro movement know what has been going on for many years and have fought hard for change. It is entirely unacceptable that so many of our colleagues across the world do not get paid yet the clubs are able to hold their registration and stop a player from moving to another club.
“FIFPro works; each country has its own unique issues but we receive support from both colleagues at other unions and from FIFPro centrally when required.”
The survey shows that most players have short and fragile careers. They experience irregular pay, have uncertain futures and are often not prepared for life after football. With an average contract length of just under two years, footballers work in a highly competitive and fragmented market.
The survey debunks the myth that players enjoy a highly privileged lifestyle.
More than 45% surveyed earn less than $1000 (USD) a month. The median net monthly salary worldwide ranges between $1000 and $2000 (USD). It is only at the very top of the game that players are rewarded handsomely: just 2% of players received $720,000 (USD) or more per annum in take-home pay.
Among the key findings, 41% of players globally reported that they did not receive their salary on time on at least one occasion in the past two seasons, with the most common delays ranging from one to three months.
It is a fundamental right of any employee to be paid in full and on time; that this most basic of rights is not respected in world football is unacceptable, according to FIFPro.
The survey also found that more than 700 players (6% of those surveyed) have come under pressure to either rescind or renew their contract by being separated from their teammates and ordered to train alone. While FIFPro has been aware of this pressure tactic for years, it is the first time it has been able to quantify the scale of the problem.
In another example of unjustified treatment, 29 percent of players who moved for a transfer fee said they were either put under pressure to join another club or did not go to the team they wanted to.
Almost 7% of players reported they had personally experienced direct approaches to fix matches over the course of their career, with that figure rising to 11% for players in their thirties. Players in lower wage brackets, and those paid late, were more likely to be offered bribes to fix matches.
“This report for the first time provides a detailed and accurate picture of what the average professional player experiences,” FIFPro General-Secretary Theo Van Seggelen said. “We now have an evidence base for the reforms that are needed in the football industry. Overdue payables, forced transfers and training alone – all this must be a thing of the past.”
“We need to build a package of measures with all stakeholders. Clubs, leagues, confederations and FIFA must accept those failures of our industry. We need to guarantee minimum employment standards for all players and clubs in all countries, reform the international regulations and think about the economic future of football. The new FIFA president announced that he wanted to work with the professional game to bring about much needed reform. This report must be the starting point.”