The UN's labour agency Monday welcomed the first global agreement on working conditions and rights of professional football players in both the men's and women's game.
"Free, independent, strong and representative employers' and workers' organisations, together with trust, commitment and respect by the governments for the autonomy of the social partners are key conditions for effective social dialogue in football," Guy Ryder, head of the International Labour Organization (ILO), said at the signing ceremony at the agency's headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
The agreement creates a new international bargaining framework between the World Leagues Forum (WLF) – representing 44 national professional football leagues comprising some 1,100 clubs – and FIFPRO, the global footballers' union – representing more than 60,000 professional football players as employees in the international football industry, through 66 national player unions in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania.
Employer and employee representatives signed the Global Labour Agreement (GLA) for professional footballers (the sport is referred to as soccer in the US), agreeing to take greater responsibility in finding collective solutions to the challenges facing the industry.
The pact acknowledges that collectively agreed upon standards, will improve labour relations in the professional game, and improve the multi-billion dollar sport's viability and growth.
The agreement will provide a platform for discussing rules for protecting players' health and safety along with a commitment to improving the representation and involvement of domestic leagues, their member clubs and players' unions.
Moreover, it recognises the need for greater representation and consideration for women's football – including issues related to domestic competitions, clubs, and players.
Negotiations may also include issues such as employment standards, concussion management, measures to tackle discrimination and racism – including on social media - and other forms of abuse.
Under the GLA, ILO may be asked to provide expert advice in areas where it has the expertise, including implementation of the agreement.
The GLA follows the fundamental principles and rights at work set out by ILO in the 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, which was amended in 2022.
It is also in line with the Points of Consensus of the ILO Global Dialogue Forum on Decent Work in the World of Sport (2020).