Union aiming at giving a voice to players

A section for football players within the General Workers Union was launched on Saturday during a press conference at the Corinthia Hotel, Attard on Saturday with the slogan “Vu?i g?all-Players”.

General Workers Union General Secretary Tony Zarb said that with the launching of this players’ association, a new page in the history of sport and trade-unionism in Malta was being written. He thanked the players for trusting the GWU to represent them and said this could serve as an example for other sportsmen and sportswomen who are willing to have their voice heard.

Zarb added that the GWU will be working for players, both locally and abroad through contacts which have already been established. In fact, during a meeting which was held earlier this week, the union has already informed European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) General Secretary John Monks that local footballers had joined its ranks. Monks expressed his satisfaction and his support.

The GWU General Secretary concluded that the union will be there for the players to understand the players, discuss with them and make their voice heard.

GWU Deputy General Secretary Michael Parnis explained that the main objective of the union will be that of giving a voice to the players and promised the union will be giving them a personalised service. He said that as members, the players will have the same benefits as the other members of the General Workers Union.

Parnis said that players will be falling under the Professionals, Finance and Services Section. The committee which has been set-up held a number of meetings during which the agenda was set and in the coming weeks, the work programme will be established.

The GWU Deputy General Secretary revealed that the union has established contacts with FIFPro – the international federation of professional football players – with regards to the possibility of local players joining the international body. The union had also talks with the two associations representing football players in England and Italy. The GWU had talks with UNI Europa regarding this sector and will be one of the founding members of UNI (Europa Sport).

Although the Malta Football Association is not the employer, the union has formally requested a meeting with the association since it represents the clubs. A request which has been accepted by president Norman Darmanin Demajo. The union will also request a meeting with the Youth FA.

Parnis said that the next step is preparing the work strategy while attracting more players to the union, not only Premier League players. Over eighty players have so far joined the union.

He concluded that the union will not be there to seek confrontation but to create unity between players and seek better conditions for players.

Dr Anthony Galea, a former player of Sliema Wanderers, Pietà Hotspurs, Mosta and St. Andrews, thanked the General Workers Union for their support in their bid to obtain better conditions for players and to improve the level of the game in general. He explained that footballers played a most important role in the game.

Dr Galea said that in past, various attempts were made to create a football players association/union but for one reason or another, these attempts were unsuccessful. Around seven years ago, as Malta was about to join the European Union, around two hundred players joined forces to write a letter to the association highlighting a number of important matters such as the parameters involved in the transfers of players and the salary caps. However at the time, the players’ voice could not be heard since they were not organised.

Players did not have the expertise and know-how on how to set-up a union and therefore they felt that it was better to join an already established union.

Union membership will not only be open to local Premier League players but also foreigners and players in the lower divisions. Dr Galea said the union will be even stronger with the membership of younger players, aged sixteen and over, as one day or another they will need its backing.

The union will seek dialogue with the MFA, YFA and the KMS and also with referees and coaches. Dr Galea said that with dialogue between all parties concerned, the level of the game could improve.

Also present for the press conference were a number of players and GWU Professional, Finance and Services Section secretary Cory Greenland.