The World’s Players’ Unions descended on Asia for the first time last week as Kuala Lumpur hosted the annual FIFPro General Assembly.
FIFPro Asia Chairman Brendan Schwab formally welcomed the 52 nations and 130 delegates gathered at the Grand Millennium to Asia and spoke of the important role the World’s Unions play in the protection of players’ basic employment rights.

“To achieve the conditions that many professional footballers enjoy today has usually required a colleague to bravely challenge the system and sacrifice their career for the benefit of others,” Schwab said. “FIFPro and the players are the true custodians of the spirit of football and it is important that no future players have to sacrifice their career for the sake of basic playing rights in the future.”

Whilst FIFPro and FIFA have a current MOU that outlines the basic employment conditions for all players, Schwab said there is much work still to be done to ensure that football continues to develop throughout the world.

“Many countries are yet to recognise the basic conditions that have been established for players between FIFPro and FIFA,” Schwab continued. “In countries where the players are organised, the football industry grows as greater emphasis is placed on professional standards in the game. It is important that this work continues and FIFPro members remain committed to the ongoing global growth of our game.”

The General Assembly ratified the appointment of Italian Leonardo Grosso as President on day 1 of the gathering. Grosso succeeds Gerardo Movilla, who stepped down as President after handing over the Presidency of the Spanish players’ association (AFE) in his own country to Luis Rubiales earlier this year.

“It is a big honor to be the president of FIFPro,” Grosso said. “My vision of the future is that we have a lot of problems both financially and politically. This includes the global financial crisis which has meant that many footballers have not received their salaries. On a political level, the smaller Players’ Associations are still fighting for the establishment of a Collective Bargaining Agreement in their country, and the bigger nations have the clubs wanting to take away the rights of their players. This will be big step back and we will work together to ensure this does not occur,” he said.

The congress held sessions on the latest FIFA Dispute Resolution issues, community programs including a merit award for the Costa Rican Players Association (ASOJUPRO) and heard from EA Sports on the future of the gaming industry and the impact this will have on football. In addition to this, a lively debate followed a presentation from David Howman, Director General of WADA, in relation to the players’ rights in the practices of testing for banned substances.

FIFPro Division Asia also held its Annual General Meeting during the congress with the main issue discussed being Indonesia’s significant move to initiate a new football competition in the country. Japan’s efforts to secure a training compensation scale consistent with FIFA regulations and the Indian Union’s progress by receiving a promise from the All Indian Football Federation to establish an NDRC were also discussed.

The General Assembly were honored to have former Malaysian National Team representative and PFA Malaysia President Bakra Ibni close the forum on behalf of FIFPro Division Asia. Bakri made reference to Malaysia being the first Asian nation to play organised football and spoke of the need for the Union to educate the industry on how to cope with the pressures of the professional game.

“When Malaysia turned professional in the 90’s, our game struggled to cope,” said Bakra. “We must make sure that the system in Malaysia understands the support that players require when they turn professional and ensure that this support is provided at every level of the game. I know Malaysian players will have a big part to play in the future success of the game in our country.”