The FIFPro World Players Union gathered in Malta to attend FIFPro European Congress. In total there were 37 players unions in attendance, which proved to be a very productive 2 days.

During the congress, which was held between the 16th and 17th of May, FIFPro European Division President Bobby Barnes took the scene to address his thoughts. Barnes singled out the courage both FIFPro and the MFPA showed in the fight for the players’ rights.

Also addressing the gathering was MFPA General Secretary Carlo Mamo. The incidents and circumstances that happened during his playing career directed Mamo to form the MFPA. Along this time, the Association analysed and progressed on many cases . Among these progresses are the removal of salary capping and agreement on minimum standard contract. Also, the abolishment of transfer fees for out of contract players and access to the National Courts are constantly on top agenda.

Heroes of Football; an Erasmus+ project which protects the beauty and joy of football, also took part in the congress. It’s representatives, Karin Blankenstein, Arnold Smit and John Ryan mentioned the sensitive issues regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. A sad fact is that no gay player in top football has openly talked about his sexual orientation. This may be due to pressure and fear of rejection within the team or fan base. The current aim about this general problem is to break the barriers and increase inclusion in football.


Karin Blankenstein, sister of Dutch gay referee John Blankenstein, opened the presentation with an overview of how to project came to life, and that it “was a dream of John’s to see more out players on the pitch”.

Arnold Smit, ex AJAX footballer shared his memories of how “he wasn’t interested in girls the same way his team mates were” and the challenges that presented to him growing up.

John Ryan from the EGLSF asked the delegates “to support this European project, as without a doubt there are gay and lesbian players in your (FIFPro) organisations and they need your support, and we are all here to protect and support the players”.

FIFPro president Bobby Barnes said that “the time is right, and this project is an important tool for our organisation to use in order to start a dialogue”.

Thank you to FIFPro, Maltese Football Players Association and to all the delegates who made us feel so welcome and supported.


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