FIFA have joined forces with FIFPro, the International Federation of Professional Footballers, in a move which will give the players an official voice in decision-making.

In what was described by FIFA president Sepp Blatter as an ‘historic day’ for football, the two organisations signed an agreement which will see the bodies try to reach common ground on problems facing the sport.
Blatter, flanked by FIFPro president Philippe Piat and Barcelona stars Samuel Eto’o and Lilian Thuram, said: ‘The players form an important part of our footballing family and must be part of the decision-making at international level.’

The FIFA president listed subjects as diverse as corruption, betting, racism and doping as matters on which the two bodies will co-operate.

‘Also, if the playing calendar is too full, problems can arise and we want to hear the players’ opinions,’ he said.

His words were echoed by veteran France defender Thuram. ‘Today is a great day because FIFA are opening up communication with the players,’ he said.

Eto’o agreed, saying: ‘Football, above all, should be for the players. Before it seemed as if we just played, while others made the important decisions. I felt part of the game, but as if I was on the other side.’

PFA Chief Executive and member of FIFA’s DRC, John Didulica echoes these sentiments.

‘The PFA has devoted considerable resources to assisting many of the 140 or so travelling Australian professionals maintain a viable football career in less then glamorous surrounds.

This agreement will ensure that Australian players abroad will be able to turn to FIFA for basic contractual and employment rights, such as the right to join a players’ association and the right against harsh termination.

FIFA has sent a loud message to national associations that the input of professional players on matters that effect thier livelihood is not only expected, but an inherent part of governing football.’