Players’ Bulletin Issue 2 (March 2021)
Here is the 2nd edition of the Players Bulletin where we have highlight key updates that will impact players and the game from the last month.
Ex-Player Becoming Leaders in Sport Administration
We look at the reasons why former players are good candidates for senior leadership positions in sport and highlight five examples of this.
Being in A Position to Succeed in Football & Life
In this article we discuss the inevitable difficult transition every professional player faces when they stop playing and why good advice and preparation is key.
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Around the Web
Women’s Super League To Earn TV Revenues For First Time
> England’s Women’s Super League has generated a broadcasting rights fee for the first time after a deal was agreed with Sky Sports and BBC. This will help continue the women’s game’s upward trajectory with terrestrial TV covering matches.
> To promote inclusion, it is not only about growing the women’s game but providing more opportunities for females to work in the men’s game. The experience of a female physio working in men’s football shows there is still a long way to go to create a welcoming and safe environment for everyone.
> The FA released guides for girls and women players on careers away from the field but most of the information is equally relevant to players of all genders.
Exposing Sexual Abuse in Football > A 700-page report was released into allegations of sexual abuse by coaches and scouts working within youth football from 1970 to 2005. The findings reveal the shocking lack of protection and safeguarding for young players during this period.
> The BBC produced a moving 3-part documentary (UK only) with the heart-breaking stories from some of the survivors of the abuse covered in the report.
> It would be a mistake to believe these issues has been eradicated from football. FIFPRO’s General Secretary has warned that the structures in football mean that abuse remains widespread and there are not the systems in place to combat it and help survivors. He cited the recent cases in Afghanistan and Haiti.
Is There Enough Concern for Players’ Health & Well-Being? > Leading researcher on brain injuries in sport, Professor Willie Stewart, has described football's management of the concussion as a "shambles" to a parliamentary inquiry on head injuries in sport. He also highlighted how women suffer concussions at twice the rate but most the research is carried out in the men’s game.
> It is suspected that heading may be causing brain disease later in life. Campaigners and some researchers want a cautious approach adopted by restricting frequency of heading in training whilst research to find a more definitive answer is undertaken. However, there are different opinions with world player union FIFPRO’s Chief Medical Officer disagreeing with this stance.
> The Premier League is carrying out a study into heading using mouthguards that measure its impact. The potential benefits of research were shown with a study suggesting that pitch side saliva tests could diagnose concussion. They believe the technology could be ready for use within 3-5 years.
> Another issue is the treatment of injuries within clubs where there is an intense focus on the result of the next game. Retired player Matty Fryatt publicised that he received a settlement from a former club after a career-ending injury was mismanaged in order to raise awareness so that others can avoid suffering a similar fate.
Champions League Reforms > The proposals for the expansion of the Champions League put to members of the European Club Association would mean an additional 100 games every season and extra strain on the top players. When the ECA Chairman said choosing to change will mean clubs can “look forward to richer investments ourselves” it is doubtful whether he had considered the perspective of those that play the game. > UEFA is having to navigate the desires of many different stakeholders as it proposes how the next Champions League cycle should look. The body representing European leagues, as well as smaller clubs, are expected to oppose the reforms but, at the last minute, it appears the bigger clubs will do the same as the additional guarantees and revenues the suggested reforms would bring are seemingly not enough to satisfy them. They desire joint control of the commercial rights.
> These reforms are reflective of the trend towards growing inequality in the game. It is recommended you read this very insightful, wider piece on those expected Champions League reforms and what it will mean for the game.
Private Equity To Revolutionise Football? > Private equity are investment funds which usually have a short to medium term timeframe to make returns. > They have a relentless focus on making money. This is shown many high-profile cases where they bought businesses, sold their assets and neglected to invest. This created, in the short-term, a more profitable and cash generating business from which dividends could be awarded. These companies were then sold with a seemingly improved financial performance, but the legacy of a lack of investment and assets later led to bankruptcy. > With a scarcity of high returning investments in the market and football clubs’ desperate need for cash, especially since the pandemic, private equity is now developing an increased presence in football. Liverpool (£) are the latest club to receive investment with Serie A still considering an offer. > Could their laser focus on profit, with little regards for football’s place as a community asset or its traditions, end up changing the game? Will there be an increased frequency of clubs going bust? Could there be the removal of promotion and relegation and the introduction of strict salary caps as we see in the North American professional sport leagues that were designed for profit rather than emerging from local communities? Time will tell.
Online Abuse and Threats
> Social media can help players connect with fans, increase their income through working with brands and provide a platform to have a positive impact on society as we saw with Marcus Rashford. However, the possibility for anyone to interact with players has also led to players receiving abuse and threats.
> Thierry Henry has announced he has left social media because of the lack of action to prevent it and gave an insightful interview to BBC’s Newsnight on his decision. Gareth Bale has suggested that players need to stage a mass boycott to force change.
> Athletes are speaking out more and more about issues that are important to them. Norway’s players lined up for their game against Gibraltar with t-shirts saying “Human rights – on and off the pitch”. This is related to 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar with several Norwegian clubs have called for the national team to boycott the tournament.
> Bayern Munich star Alphonso Davies has become a Global Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations' Refugee Agency. The Canadian International was born in a refugee camp in Ghana and is now one of the world’s biggest stars, an example of the positive impact playing football can have. Learn about his story and new role.
> Another activist is retired Australian player Craig Foster. He fought to prevent active player Hakeem al-Araibi from a life-threatening extradition (£) to Bahrain after he was being held in Thailand. Incredibly, Foster highlights how hard he had to work to convince FIFA and FIFPRO to add their support.
Player Salaries > A sports lawyer discusses the potential impact of the arbitration decision that led to the withdrawal of salary caps in Leagues One & Two including the need for involvement of players in any future discussions, whether they can exist in competitions with promotion and relegation, and the requirement for transparency of club finances.
> UEFA’s tool to suppress transfer and wages, Financial Fair Play, is set to change with less focus on assessing on what clubs have done in the past and more on restricting present and future spending. Players Being Burgled >Thieves are increasingly targeting players homes. Angel Di Maria was substituted so that he could return home after it had been broken into while his wife and young children were present. Everton’s on loan goalkeeper Robin Olsen, his wife and two children were at home when it was entered by a masked gang wielding machetes who stole valuable jewellery but, fortunately, no-one was harmed. We partnered with Inkerman Private Clients to support players on this issue.
Loneliness Among Players > The Covid-19 pandemic has seen many people lose loved ones and put an immense strain on healthcare workers across the world. It has had less severe but still significant negative impacts for many others including players. They often live itinerant lives far away from family and friends and the restrictions on travel and social interaction has increased their susceptibility to loneliness.
> The FA released the amounts spent on agent fees across English competitions in the year until February 2021 with £272 million by Premier League clubs alone.
> The FA are also investigating a top agent is under investigation by The FA for allegedly breaching its rules by paying the parent of an England youth player £10,000 to join his agency before the year of his 16th birthday.
Player Unions’ Research
> An in-depth report by FIFPRO looks at the global and systemic trends in football and what needs to be done to create a sustainable future and provide stable employment conditions for players. One notable number featured is that players have made claims for nearly $61 million in unrecovered salaries to FIFPRO since February 2020.
> The players union in Australia and FIFPRO carried out a survey of retired players. The findings show many players struggled with their transition, lacked appropriate support, did not engage in pre-retirement planning and struggled to gain employment immediately following their playing careers. These are all issues that Player4Player was set up to help resolve and we are here to prepare players for their transition to a life after playing.
> The Professional Footballers Association in England have announced that Swiss Moheta Molango will become the new CEO. He will take over from Graham Taylor who has defended the organisation and his leadership (£).
Social Media Highlight
Are you a current or former professional player who would like some advice from people that have been in your situation? Speak with one of our founders and former players who want to hear from you by emailing Doug@Player4Player.com
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