The Malta Football Players Association (MFPA) was invited for the first time to attend the FIFPro General Assembly 2011, held in Tel Aviv. The MFPA was one of the 58 countries invited to the general assembly. The MFPA was represented by the president of the association Dr. Anthony Galea and executive committee member Konrad Sultana.
The general assembly was spread over three days, including a full day tour of the Jerusalem.
The main topics discussed during the assembly were violence and harassment on players by coaches, management and fans for various reasons such as contracts, match fixing or racial. The Russian and Columbian representatives gave accounts of such events in their respective countries.
Former AC Milan and Croatian international Dario Simic addressed the congress and shared his experience and mentioned that such incidents experienced even by top players such as Goran Pandev, Vincenzo Iaquinta and Amauri.
Former Manchester United, Lazio and Czech Republic international Karel Poborski shared his bad experience and abuse by the Lazio fans during his playing days in Rome.
Another important topic was the playing surfaces, both natural and artificial turf, on which there is currently a joint programme between FIFA and FIFPro. The main aim of the programme is to find solution on playing surface related injuries and to improve the situation. One thousand two hundred and fifty players from the different continents complied a questionnaire on the subject. Doctors, coaches, physiotherapists and ground managers are also participating in this program.
The FIFPro General Secretary, who is part of the FIFA Task Force 2014, addressed the assembly highlighting the main responsibilities of this group including the additional assistant referees, goal line technology, fourth substitute during extra-time, radio communication on the bench, vanishing spray for the distance of the wall from the ball in free-kicks, offside – the need of a clear definition and triple punishment (red card, penalty and suspension). This task force will eventually recommend to FIFA changes or introduction of new rules.
Other topics were the gaming industry with a presentation from EA SPORTS (Electronic Arts SPORTS), how match fixing and illegal betting is effecting football all over the world and the consequences on players, club officials, referees and attendance at the games, the FIFA DRC (Dispute Resolution Chamber) and the CAS (Court of Arbitration for sports), the strike that paralysed La Liga in Spain earlier this year.
The Culture and Sports Minister of Israel, Hon. Limor Livnat addressed the general assembly and thanked FIFPro for giving Israel the opportunity to organise this annual event.
As part of its ongoing corporate responsibility program, FIFPro presented a cheque $25,000 to a foundation taking care of Palestinians and Israeli children making them live together and play football together.
The MFPA representatives had the opportunity to share their experience in Malta and also gain from the experience of other associations and union represented by top players such as Karel Poborsky, Dario Simic and Stefano Tommasi.
The General Assembly 2012 will be held in Washington DC.
The MFPA was awarded an observer status, the first step towards the FIFPro membership.