UNI Sport PRO will be UNI World Athletes; New President Elected; Priorities Set
Leading athlete unions from the world’s major professional sports came together in Cape Town, South Africa this past week to formalize the governance of the UNI Global Union sector, UNI World Athletes (formerly UNI Sport PRO). UNI World Athletes unites working athletes from sports including football, cricket, rugby union, ice hockey, baseball, American football, basketball, rugby league, netball, skiing, cycling and Australian football.
The ten-member Executive Committee was unanimously elected under the Presidency of Don Fehr (US), Executive Director of the National Hockey League Players Union.
Fehr is joined on the Executive Committee by:
Brendan Schwab, Vice President of FIFPRO, Elected 1st Vice President
Jeff Reymond, the General Secretary of EU Athletes, Elected 2nd Vice President
Frederique Winia, FIFPro Director International Relations
Dejan Stefanovic, FIFPRO Board Member
Rob Nichol, the CEO of the International Rugby Players’ Association
Ian Smith, the COO of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations
DeMaurice Smith, the Executive Director of the National Football League Players’ Association
Paul Marsh, the CEO of the Australian Football League Players’ Association and a Board member of the Australian Athletes’ Alliance
Toru Matsubara, the Executive Director of the Japanese Professional Baseball Players’ Association.
The establishment of UNI World Athletes follows three years of close collaboration among global athlete unions. During this period, many examples of poor governance in sport organizations has coincided with a concerted attack on athletes basic economic and legal rights under the guise of a campaign for legal exceptions or “autonomy” for sport.
In a rousing speech before the 2000 delegates at the UNI Global Union World Congress, NFLPA Executive Director, DeMaurice Smith, declared, “It’s time for athletes to reclaim the spirit of sport.”
UNI World Athletes has therefore dedicated itself to advancing six immediate goals:
The good governance of world sport with an emphasis on collective bargaining and social dialogue.
The development of effective and proportionate measures to protect the integrity of sport from threats such as doping and match manipulation
Athlete health and safety
Athlete development and wellbeing, including preparing athletes for life beyond a career which is dangerous, short-term and precarious
The protection of the intellectual property rights of athletes
Organising athletes throughout the world, to ensure that athletes are intimately involved in the decision-making of their sports.
1st Vice President, Brendan Schwab, said FIFPro regarded the establishment of UNI World Athletes as an essential step to safeguarding the rights of professional footballers and the cultural role of sport.
“FIFPro’s experience over 50 years demonstrates that the players have a central role to play in advancing the sporting and economic interests of football. This battle is constant and ongoing. Our present challenges over football’s transfer system demonstrate that the voice of the players is essential if the game is to adopt the necessary measures to run itself prudently and to avoid abuses such as third party ownership of player rights.
“Our work with UNI World Athletes has taught us that this is true for all of sport.
“FIFPro is confident that UNI World Athletes can play a transformative role in world sport. Not only will we ensure that the role of the athlete is respected and rewarded, we can ensure that sport, once again, genuinely upholds the values which make it such an important institution in our society.”