Remy Ebanega and the ANFPG: Breaking through for footballers in Gabon
At the UNI Africa conference in Dakar, Gabonese footballer Remy Ebanega described his journey as a professional footballer and pioneering trade unionist in Gabon.
Ebanega, who began his career at l’US d’Oyem, before playing for French clubs Auxerre and Bastia, represented his country Gabon at the CAN in 2012. After creating the ANFPG (Association Syndicale des Footballeurs Professionels du Gabon), Remy is a leading trade unionist in Gabon as the President of the young and innovative union ANFPG. The ANFPG is engaged in efforts to improve the situation of players in Gabon and Africa through education, organising and building player power.
“Footballers are workers just like any others”, said Ebanega. “In Gabon, just a few years ago, having a trade union of footballers was completely out of the realms of possibility. Now, we have the support of international footballers which gives us legitimacy in the eyes of the sporting institutions in Gabon.”
The ANFPG, which is a member of UNI World Athletes affiliate FIFPro, was created to raise awareness and education about the need for unions, as footballers are often naïve about their profession. Educating both footballers and politicians required a change in mentality - football is not just a passion, it’s also a job. Footballers in Gabon are now being educated about the values of trade unions to defend rights and fight for better working conditions and build solidarity.
“We have a very strong and united team at ANFPG which shares one vision, determination and spirit for the future of Gabonese football.”
As president of the ANFPG, Ebanega hopes to move forward and establish a national collective bargaining agreement for all footballers in Gabon. The establishment of a collective agreement would pave the way for similar agreements in other sports and could inspire Gabonese athletes to follow suit.
In conclusion, Ebanega quoted Mark Twain, saying, “They did not know that it was impossible, so they did it. This reflects our fight as footballers and trade unionists – though the odds may seem insurmountable, we can still fight to win justice and dignity in our work.”