A new European social dialogue committee on professional football was launched by the Commission this morning to support employer-player dialogue and help shape employment relations.
“Footballers are some of the most mobile professionals in Europe, so this new social dialogue will help to tackle issues that simply cannot be resolved at national level,” said EU Social Affairs Commissioner Vladimír Špidla, encouraging other social partners in the sport sector to follow “this very good example”.
The first meeting of the new European level committee took place in Paris on 1 July, when the social partners signed the committee’s rules of procedure after six years of negotiations.
The dialogue will be chaired by the president of the European football governing body, UEFA. The players/employees are represented by the International Federation of Professional Footballers’ Associations Division Europe (FIFPro) and the clubs/employers by the Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) and the recently created European Club Association (ECA).
The dialogue aims “to bring more legal certainty and stability to footballers’ contracts” by establishing for example, minimum requirements regarding insurance, education, health and safety and image rights.
The EU commissioner in charge of sport, Ján Figel’, also attended the event. Indeed, the EU executive reiterated its support for social dialogue in the sport sector with adoption of its White Paper on Sport a year ago.
“This is the first time that the various stakeholders are getting together with the Commission to discuss labour issues,” said Figel’, adding that he believes this reflected “an increased willingness and openness for lasting, constructive dialogue in the sporting world between the sports organisations, sportspersons themselves and the European Commission”.
The Commission’s 2007 White Paper namely argued that “in the light of a growing number of challenges to sport governance, social dialogue at European level can contribute to addressing common concerns of employers and athletes,” including sectoral agreements on employment relations and working conditions “in accordance with EC Treaty provisions”.
The EU executive also argued that social dialogue could lead to the establishment of “commonly agreed codes of conduct or charters,” which could address issues related to training, working conditions or the protection of young people.