On 31st of March 2020, EU Athletes Executive Board held an online emergency meeting in order to discuss latest developments related to the Coronavirus pandemic and its impact on sport and the athletes. In the time of a global public health crisis, many of player associations and players themselves have demonstrated an exemplary leadership, dedication and solidarity related to this unprecedented situation.
EU Athletes and its members are committed to making sure that professional and elite level sport in Europe remains a viable and sustainable business in the long-term. During the discussion, Board members exchanged about the way that clubs, leagues and federations in different sports and countries are dealing with the current situation. It was agreed that in order to find adequate short and long-term solutions to various challenges facing sport sector, there is a need to prioritize dialogue and stakeholder engagement.
‘Today more than ever, athletes need to be a part of the solution. That is why we call for sport organizations to commit to the active engagement with the athlete and player associations about sport’s response to the current crisis.’said Paulina Tomczyk, the General Secretary of EU Athletes. ‘This way it can be assured that the fundamental athletes’rights are respected through a proper decision making process.’
The Coronavirus pandemic is a global health crisis affecting all sectors and areas of activity as well as everyday life for millions of people. These are unprecedented times and our thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones and are struggling. EU Athletes and its members are committed to making sure that when this is over, professional and elite level sport in Europe remains a viable and sustainable business. To find adequate short and long-term solutions to various challenges facing sport sector, there is a need to prioritize dialogue and stakeholder engagement. Today, we call for sports federations, leagues and clubs to commit to the active engagement with the athlete and player associations about sport’s response to the current crisis. While addressing the situation, the respect of fundamental athletes’rights and a proper decision-making process must be assured. It is simply unacceptable for decisions affecting the livelihoods of athletes to be made without consultation and agreement. There are five main issues identified at recent emergency Board meeting of EU Athletes:
Contracts need to be respected and cannot be altered without the agreement of both parties. Many players and their associations recognize that some clubs need to reduce outgoings whilst sport is suspended. However, any deferral of wages needs to be agreed through negotiation and cannot be applied unilaterally.
2) Return to play
The health and safety of players, officials, staff and spectators is paramount in any decisions around the resumption of professional and elite level sport. These must be made based on most up to date available information and avoid exposing individuals or communities to further risks.
3) Workload and scheduling
Professional athletes need adequate rest between matches, and it is essential that when sport resumes, the competitions are scheduled in a way that respects players’health and safety and allows sufficient preparation and recovery time between them.
4) International calendar
The current crisis has obviously impacted upon the timetable for national, European and international sports competitions for this and following seasons. It is essential that the new schedules are coordinated, and that European and international player associations are actively involved in these decisions.
5) Government support
Professional athletes should be included in any national government income protection schemes, just the same as other workers. What is more, the situation of athletes who are self-employed, working under civil law contract or without a formal contract must be addressed to make sure that they can benefit from financial support in these difficult times. EU Athletes and its member player and athlete associations are committed to working with sport and government stakeholders to help ensure that European and national sport is able to continue when the current crisis finally abates.
EU Athletes is the leading European multi-sport federation of player associations (sports trade unions) with 35 members in 17 different European countries in a wide range of different sports. More than 25,000 elite athletes are represented through the membership.