Issue 1 (February 2021)
At Player 4 Player we keep a very close eye on the latest updates and developments that could impact players and the game we love. For that reason, we are launching the Players’ Bulletin where every month we will share the most important and interesting content that we have come across for you to enjoy. Here is Issue 1!
From Around the Web
Youth Football in Professional Clubs A former youth star discussed his academy experience that led him to make the troubling conclusion that “There is no care in football” and another released player described the after-care as "completely inadequate". After seeing his interview, several players with similar stories came forward which resulted in this sobering mini-documentary. This all comes after the shocking news last year that a teenager took his own life after struggling to deal with being let go by a Premier League club.
Are these isolated incidents or indication of a widespread and serious problem with the culture and environment that children encounter in professional football club academies?
The recent news that a 15-year-old academy prospect was caught with injection devices containing a prohibited growth hormone and banned for 9 months could be viewed as an indication the latter is a more truthful reflection. And this would be further backed up by a survey of released players that found 72% felt their club didn’t give them enough support after they were let go and 88% felt anxious or depressed since they left.
Agent Banned for Approaching 16-Year-Old With potential lucrative futures, young players have to also deal with the advances of those that would like to profit from them. The FA has apparently launched a crackdown on agents contacting youngsters through social media which presents a serious safeguarding issue. One agent was banned this month after he approached an under 18 year old player without informing their parents. We'll leave you to decide if that 2-week ban provides an appropriate deterrent.
UEFA New Proposal for Champions League Over the last year there has been a lot of manoeuvring and comment from the two sides of the European Super League debate as they try to strengthen their relative positions. It seems an agreement may soon be reached through reform of the Champions League that will further promote the interests of the biggest clubs.
Oliver Kay offered a very interesting analysis of the forces driving the increasing inequality in the game (£) and the potential ramifications.
Salary Caps Withdrawn Those clubs lower down the football pyramid have been searching for a much needed sustainable financial model. One option explored has been salary caps which were introduced in England’s League One and Two less than 6 months ago but have now had to be withdrawn due to a decision by an Independent Arbitration Panel.
The reason behind the decision was the players’ union was not consulted which breached the collective bargaining agreement as the winning lawyer in the case explains. In American sports, where salary caps are common, they are always agreed beforehand with the players’ unions. We will see if they will return in a different form.
A player owed more than $1 million, a former international player receiving money whilst claiming to be his agent and the Court of Arbitration for Sport describing a club’s behaviour as "immoral", "intimidating" and "merciless"; This is a sad indictment of how players can be despicably treated but Ghanaian striker Benjamin Acheampong is not backing down saying "I want to encourage other guys to fight for whatever belongs to them. This is what we do to survive."
Concussion Substitutes February saw the first use of the new rules that allow for concussion substitutes. West Ham’s Issa Diop returned to the pitch after a head injury and then was subsequently substituted at half-time. The reaction from brain injury charity Headway was to call the decision of the authorities to opt for permanent over temporary concussion substitutes ‘deeply flawed’.
Gambling is embedded in football and addiction affects players and fans. The Athletic spoke to some footballers about their experiences (£). Meanwhile, a charity for gambling addicts has written to 11 clubs to pressure them to stop including gambling promotion on their social media channels which will include an audience under 18 years of age. This all comes as the government is to review gambling laws that could significantly impact on one of football’s major revenue source at a time when the game’s finances are in a perilous state. Players Fight Against Racism Since the murder of George Floyd, players have been united in their support for the fight against racism. One representation of this has been taking the knee before games. However, there are different opinions on its impact and Wilfred Zaha has stated his reason why he will no longer participate. Social Media Abuse There are many thoughts on what can be done to stop abuse on social media. It provides a platform where players can directly engage with their fans but, unfortunately, that connection is used by some to send vile and abusive comments in the other direction. Players are reluctant to leave the platforms due to the positive aspects so can a solution be found? Jonathan Liew wrote a thoughtful piece on the topic.
Former Player Opens Homeless Shelter Ex-Manchester United player Lou Macari has been helping homeless people through providing accommodation. In a recent interview with the BBC he said “All my life I was in a privileged position and I just thought ‘what have I ever done to help anybody?’ and I’ve been in a position where I could’ve and the answer was I haven’t really done anything”. Footballers are heavily involved in supporting charities and good causes. Last month, our partner All Heart identified 7 tips on how players can use social media to promote those issues important to them.
We’d like to recommend a couple of our own efforts. We published an in-depth piece on players studying while playing which was split into Part 1 and Part 2. We also covered the UEFA MIP course for former international players that was the seed from which Player 4 Player grew.
Player 4 Player in the Media
SoccerEx – Our co-founder Stiliyan Petrov was part of the global football industry conference where he participated in a panel discussing the support for players at different stages of their career including around mental health.
The Athletic (£) - An interview with another of our founders, Gaizka Mendieta, covering various elements of his career.
SOCIAL Media HIGHLIGHT
Are you a current or former professional player who may need help & support? Speak with one of our founders and former players who want to hear from you by emailing Doug@Player4Player.com
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