Soccer players in Asia face uphill battle for their rights, says union

Soccer players in Asia face uphill battle for their rights, says union

Soccer players in many parts of Asia face an uphill battle to ensure basic rights and the COVID-19 pandemic has made them especially vulnerable to wage cuts and redundancies, the global players’ union FIFPRO said on Tuesday.

Although players’ rights are a concern worldwide, the problem is acute in Asia because of a lack of dialogue with federations and clubs, FIFPRO general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann told reporters in a conference call.

“The unfortunate reality is that in many parts of Asia, the level of engagement and collective bargaining is lacking and this is having a drastic effect,” he said.

Baer-Hoffmann said the situation was especially dramatic in Indonesia where players had seen their salaries slashed by 75%.

“It is a major football market and it has very rich team owners who have the capacity to sustain the clubs,” said Baer-Hoffmann. “The players are not the only ones who need to make sacrifices.”

Baer-Hoffmann added that while the situation was difficult for foreign players in the country, they at least had access to FIFA’s dispute resolution chamber – unlike local players.

“The domestic players are experiencing extreme hardship,” he said. “We need to take care of these players and this is very, very challenging.”

In June, FIFPRO said that some players were working as street vendors, selling ice, sat and other food, to help make ends meet after being left with salaries of $50 a month.

FIFPRO has affiliates in only seven of the Asian Football Confederation’s 47 members — Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, India, Qatar, Australia and Malaysia — but even in those countries, the situation was not easy.

“Even in Japan, we are still struggling with how to establish an effective dialogue with the management,” said FIFPRO Asia chairman Takuya Yamazaki. “In a hierarchical culture, it is difficult to establish an effective dialogue.

“Dialogue is absolutely vital to solve the difficult issues under the pandemic but (in Asia) we are not used to this concept of having an effective dialogue with the stakeholders.”

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