ILO welcomes first global agreement on working conditions and rights of professional football players

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has welcomed the signing of the first ever Global Labour Agreement (GLA) covering the working conditions and rights of professional football (soccer) players.

The agreement creates a new international bargaining framework between the World Leagues Forum (WLF), which represents 44 national professional football leagues comprising some 1,100 clubs, and FIFPRO, which represents more than 60,000 professional footballers as employees in the international football industry, through 66 national player unions in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. The signing ceremony was witnessed by the ILO’s Director-General, Guy Ryder.

As global employer and employee representatives, the agreement’s signatories agree to take greater responsibility to find collective solutions to the challenges facing the football industry.

The GLA acknowledges that collectively-agreed standards will improve labour relations in professional football and contribute to its viability and growth. The agreement will provide a platform for discussing rules for protecting players’ health and safety and a commitment to improve the representation and involvement of domestic leagues, their member clubs and players’ unions.

The agreement also recognizes the need for greater representation and consideration for women’s football – including issues related to domestic competitions, clubs and players.

Football has the power to inspire and unite people of all nationalities and walks of life, irrespective of gender and ethnicity. Football players need to be protected by the fundamental principles and rights at work.”

Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General

Negotiations may also include issues such as employment standards, concussion management, measures to tackle discrimination and racism on and off-line, and other forms of abuse.

Under the GLA the ILO may be asked to provide expert advice in areas where it has expertise, including implementation of the agreement.

The signatories to the agreement were led by David Aganzo, President of FIFPRO, and Enrique Bonilla, Chairman of the World Leagues Forum. Speaking at the signing ceremony, at the ILO’s headquarters in Geneva, ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder said: “Football has the power to inspire and unite people of all nationalities and walks of life, irrespective of gender and ethnicity. Football players, regardless of the type of employment relationship, need to be protected by the fundamental principles and rights at work. Free, independent, strong and representative employers’ and workers’ organizations, together with trust, commitment and respect by the governments for the autonomy of the social partners are key conditions for effective social dialogue in football.”

The GLA follows the fundamental principles and rights at work set out by the ILO in the 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, which was amended in 2022. It is also in line with the Points of Consensus of the ILO Global Dialogue Forum on Decent Work in the World of Sport (2020). Specific reference is also made to the ILO Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87) and the ILO Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98).

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