South African players negotiate better legal protection
26 February 2020
South African player union SAFPU arranged better legal protection for professional footballers when it signed a new collective deal with their country’s league and football association (SAFA).
“The problem is that our current arbitration system is not functioning well enough,” said SAFPU President Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe. “It lacks equal representation, clubs can delay cases forever and players often only receive a far cry from what they would get if a case was handled in a fair and impartial arbitration court.”
Gaoshubelwe also deems the current judicial system unfair. Foreign players can take their case to the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) - which is impartial and functioning well - while South African players cannot do that as the FIFA DRC only handles international cases.
“Our new system will be compliant with FIFA regulations and work better and faster,” said Gaoshubelwe, who thinks the new dispute resolution chamber (NDRC) is up and running within a few weeks. “When we have a proper NDRC taking proper decisions, then clubs will respect player contracts more. We will have fewer cases.”
Most cases concern breach non-paid player salaries, illegal breach of contract by clubs or unfair dismissal.
When the new NDRC is in place, then SAFPU and the Premier League will begin working jointly on other issues, including player insurance, medical aid, minimum wage, retirement benefits, image rights, and the improvement of the standard player contract.
“We decided to operate this way, because if we wanted to agree on all issues immediately, then we maybe would not agree on anything. There were too many issues,” said Gaoshubelwe.
With the deal SAFPU also secured better access to the players (at least twice a season) and financial support to help grow the union.
Paving the way in Africa
“I want to congratulate the player unions of Botswana and South Africa, as they are paving the way for other members in our division. I hope many other countries will soon follow,” said FIFPRO Board Member and FIFPRO Africa President Geremi, a former Cameroon national team player.