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The situation of professional footballers in Turkey has been problematic to say the least. FIFPro hopes that the efforts of the Turkish professional footballers association (TPFD) will help bring a change. Recently both unions had a meeting at FIFPro’s headquarter in the Netherlands, resulting in the TPFD obtainng the official 'Observer' status.

FIFPro Secretary General Theo van Seggelen, Director of International Relations and Member Services Frederique Winia and FIFPro Division Europe Board Member Tony Higgins welcomed the strong 6-person delegation of the Turkish players association.

The most prominent representatives of that delegation were Alpay Özalan, Hakan Ünsal and Bülent Korkmaz, all three former national team players. Özalan has made 90 appearances for Turkey and played for among others Besiktas, Fenerbahçe and Aston Villa. The central defender was named in the 2002 World Cup all-star team after helping Turkey surprisingly clinch the third place. Ünsal and Korkmaz were also members of that squad. Left back Ünsal played 10 seasons for Galatasaray and made 33 appearances for Turkey. Central defender Korkmaz played 18 seasons and more than 400 matches for Galatasaray, and made 102 appearances for Turkey. Both men won the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup with Galatasaray in 2000. 

Ünsal, Özalan and Korkmaz were members of an extremely talented generation of Turkish footballers. Now, they are respectively the President, the Secretary General and a board member of the union, which aims to improve the working conditions and the rights and interests of the current players in their country.

Ünsal, Özalan, Korkmaz and their colleagues informed FIFPro about the latest developments concerning the TPFD and the status of professional football in Turkey and its main actors, the players.

The union was founded in 1992 by among others the current national team coach Fatih Terim. In 2015, the TPFD went through a revitalisation process, including the appointment of a new leadership.

The union is recognized by the Turkish government, the football association, the professional clubs association and last but not least, the Turkish national team, whose players are members of the union.

The TPFD has also initiated a major recruitment campaign to sign up new members from the more than 3,000 professional footballers in Turkey. The TPFD is working hard to improve the solidarity among the players as well as the awareness of their rights.

The major problems facing the TPFD and professional football players in Turkey are:

  • Non-payment
  • Bullying and harassment
  • Little respect for players’ rights
  • Huge influence of clubs in FA decision making

“The Turkish union gave us a very well prepared presentation about the structure of their organisation, its objectives and their strategy for the upcoming five years”, said Higgins.

“We will be observing their progress closely. And we will give them all the support they need growing their organisation.”

Days after the visit of the TPFD delegation, the FIFPro board decided to grant the Turkish player union the Observer status, which is the first step in the process of obtaining full FIFPro membership. 

FIFPro TPFU 1 640

Frederique Winia, Alpay Özalan, Theo van Seggelen, Hakan Ünsal, Tony Higgins, Mert Yasar (legal advisor), Bülent Korkmaz, Heval Elhuseyni (consultant) and Onur Yakin (consultant) 

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