FIFPro Asia Chairman and Australian Athletes’ Alliance General Secretary, Brendan Schwab, was a guest speaker at the Interpol International Conference – Match Fixing: The Ugly Side of the Beautiful Game commencing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday 20 February.
The conference is part of the partnership forged between Interpol and FIFA in 2011 which saw the creation of Interpol’s Integrity in Sport Unit. The 10 year commitment between Interpol and FIFA aims to develop and implement a global programme to combat match fixing which focuses on training, education and prevention.
Schwab was speaking as the representative of FIFPro, the world federation of football players’ associations, made up of 56 players’ associations who together represent 65,000 of the world’s professional footballers. He told the conference:
‘The players, here, stand united, to work with all members of the football family, governments and the policing authorities to withstand the threat of match fixing. To assist, it is important that everyone understands the plight of the professional footballer. Our extensive research shows that match fixing and corruption do not begin with the players. We ask you to join us in our fight to sustain the integrity and dignity of the career of the professional footballer, for this is essential if we are to maintain the integrity of the game.’
Schwab informed the conference of FIFPro’s extensive work in Eastern Europe, culminating last year in the release of the FIFPro Black Book. ‘We gave our report this name because its findings reflect sadly on our game.’
While some of the problems the players face are very basic including a lack of written contracts, of greater concern is that some of the players’ most serious problems are widespread. These include:
- 41.1% are not paid on time, and around 5% have to wait more than six months for their salaries;
- almost 93% of non-payment issues are due to the financial circumstances of the clubs;
- every ninth player has been the victim of a violent act, mainly cause by fans (55.8%), but with over 22% of acts being committed by the club’s management or coach;
- more than 10% of players are subjected to bullying and harassment, mainly by club management (64%) or the coach (24%);
- almost one in ten report examples of racism and discrimination, mainly by club supporters; and
- alarmingly, 11.9% stated they have been approached to consider fixing the result of a match and more than double that number – 23.6% - are aware that match fixing has taken place in their league.
Schwab said these problems are not confined to Eastern Europe. He told delegates that all members of the football family, governments and the policing authorities must work together to combat these issues.
‘We bring to the table the 65,000 players of FIFPro in a steadfast commitment to work with everyone to uphold the integrity of the game. We ask you to see that the players are part of the solution, and not the problem. The unique relationship of trust and confidence that exists between the players and their players’ associations, coupled with the responsible and committed leadership of FIFPro, are needed in order for football to defeat match fixing.’
Schwab also outlined FIFPro’s eight guiding principles in its approach to match fixing. These include: training and education, the need for effective and tailor made regulations, good governance, sustaining strong independent players’ associations and ensuring that players’ are developed as people, with a broad perspective on life and can transition to life after football.
- Published: 20 February 2013