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FIFPro is launching the ‘Mind the Gap’ project to help professional footballers transition to a new career.

FIFPro has begun working with 14 project partners to support footballers and other athletes with planning for life after their sports career. The project is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.

When they stop playing, life can be tough for footballers. Suddenly, sometimes without warning, a gap opens in their lives: there might be a drop in income, loss of confidence and a move away from a support group of teammates and club staff.

'Mind the Gap' will support national players associations in establishing an optimum support system that prepares footballers for this moment.

Players tend to have fewer educational qualifications and less relevant work experience than their competitors in the employment market. Only 13% of active professional male football players in Europe have post-school vocational education – compared to about 53% of the male population in the EU.

GER Educational attainment per region 640

Source: 2016 FIFPro Global Employment Report

In women’s football, players tend to be better prepared. Some 46% of active women professional players are studying for another career, and 67% already have another job.

Often athletes neglect their education and focus their energy on reaching the elite level of their sport, while their employers do little to encourage them to prepare for a second career.

'Mind the Gap' aims to change that.

That a sports career can be combined with preparing for a life after sport has been demonstrated by Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini (pictured above) who recently completed a master’s degree in business at Turin University.

An interview with Chiellini and other professional footballers who have prepared for the transition to another job will be published on this website in the coming weeks.

Among these are three footballers (pictured below) who have sumbitted a proposed 'Mind the Gap' logo to kick off the project.

Dennis Carola Bogdan 650

(Footballers-turned-designers: Dennis Iliohan, Carola Soberg and Bogdan Teleaba)

The 'Mind the Gap' partners will define best practices to help players, create the ideal job specifications of a player development manager and identify the competitive advantages of athletes in the employment market.

These findings, along with other information about 'Mind the Gap', will be published on the FIFPro website in the 'Projects' section.

As part of the next phase of the project, new player development managers will be appointed at several national football player associations. They will receive intensive training and become part of a network exchanging ideas and information.

A C.V. database and online career planning tool will also be developed. The database will enable players to upload a C.V. outlining their skills. The online career planning tool will allow player associations to provide individual career guidance to athletes.

‘Mind the Gap’ has a total of 14 partners, mostly national football players associations, but also the Irish rugby player association, the U.K.-based Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme and the University of Brussels (VUB). The partners are based in Cyprus, Ireland, Finland, Greece, Norway, Sweden and the U.K.

Click here for more information about the partners of this project