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Participants and challenges

Although it is still too soon to be able to assess the social dialogue in this sector, the minimum requirements applicable to professional players’ contracts have already become an important subject of debate. The social partners’ long-term aim is to reach agreement on minimum standards in areas such as health and safety, sickness insurance, education for young players, image rights, etc.

This sectoral social dialogue is of very recent date. Not until December 2007 did the International Organisation of Professional Football Players’ Associations – Division Europe (FIFPro) and the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) jointly ask the Commission to establish a Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee in the sector. They received a favourable response on 13 March 2008, and the SSDC was inaugurated on 1 July 2008.

The SSDC comprises the associations which represent the players (FIFPro, representing more than 28,000 players in 20 Member States), the leagues (EPFL, representing a total of over 600 European clubs) and the football clubs (ECA, representing 103 of the top clubs, 67 of them currently based in EU Member States). The social partners invited UEFA to chair the SSDC.

Under the rules of procedure adopted on 1 July 2008, the aims of the social dialogue are to lobby the Commission, through joint opinions on European social and employment policies and any other policy affecting the sector, and also to draw up reciprocal commitments, via framework agreements referring explicitly to Articles 138 and 139 of the Treaty. The SSDC strives in addition to promote social dialogue within the sector. According to the Commission, the social partners in 11 Member States have already negotiated national collective agreements in this sector.

Annexed to the rules of procedure is the first work programme, for 2008-2009. The number-one topic of discussion is the minimum requirements for professional football players’ contracts. The two sides undertake to exchange views and attempt to agree on minimum standards in areas such as health and safety at work, sickness insurance, education for young players, players’ rights and obligations, dispute settlement and image rights.

ETUI and Observatoire Social Européen (2010) European Sectoral Social Dialogue Factsheets. Project coordinated by Christophe Degryse, online publication available at www.worker-participation.eu/EU-Social-Dialogue/Sectoral-ESD