PFA - 13th June 2024 - PFA Joins Legal Case Against FIFA

PFA - 13th June 2024 - PFA Joins Legal Case Against FIFA

13 June 2024

The PFA has today joined a legal case which will seek to challenge the structures of the current football calendar by enforcing the legal rights of players to take guaranteed and protected breaks.

The PFA are co-claimants in the case, which has been placed before the Belgian courts, alongside the French players’ union (UNFP) and supported by FIFPRO Europe.

The claim specifically asks the Brussels Court of Commerce to refer the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The ECJ would be asked to provide a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of EU law as it relates to footballers’ rights under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, including the right of players to take an annual period of paid leave. The ECJ would then send the case back to the court in Belgium for a final ruling which could have a significant and far-reaching impact on the way the football calendar is structured.

The case is being led on behalf of the unions by Jean-Louis Dupont. Dupont, a prominent and globally recognised sports lawyer, was part of the team which won the ‘Bosman ruling’, the 1995 European Court of Justice ruling named after the Belgium player Jean-Marc Bosman which revolutionised the transfer market involving footballers based on their legal right to free movement.

The legal claim comes after unions and leagues joined together to demand that FIFA reverse plans to hold an expanded Club World Cup competition across June and July 2025, a decision which was taken without negotiation or engagement with player unions. The scheduling of the tournament has been viewed as a tipping point for the football calendar and the ability of players to be able to take meaningful breaks between seasons.

PFA CEO Maheta Molango said: “This is an important moment for players and for their rights as employees. Everyone across football knows that the fixture calendar is broken to the point that it has now become unworkable.

“The most in-demand players are now part of an endless schedule of games and competitions for club and country, with their limits constantly being pushed through expansion and the creation of new competitions.

“I am constantly told by those members that what they want is a properly protected break where they can rest and recharge. Those who run the game know this. We have made sure they have heard it directly from players, but nothing has been done.

“There are too many emerging instances across football where the rights of players, and the legal implications of decisions by governing bodies and competition organisers, are seen as something that can just be ignored. Too many within football act like it is exempt from the normal requirements of employers and employees.

“Players are not being listened to and they want to see action. As their union, we have a duty to intervene and to enforce their legal rights as employees. Ultimately, that time has now come.”

For PFA members in England who will have international commitments for club and country, the 2024/25 season is set to roll almost seamlessly into the 2025/26 season.

The Premier League season will conclude on the 25th May 2025, with the UEFA Champions League Final taking place a week later in Munich on 31st May. FIFA’s international window, which will include the UEFA Nations League Final, runs from the 2nd to the 10th June, with the expanded FIFA Club World Cup kicking off four days later in the USA on 14th June and running until 13th July. Players will then be likely to have club commitments ahead of the 2025/26 season, potentially including the FA Community Shield, with the Premier League season scheduled to kick off again in mid-August.

Players must also wait to see when the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) will be held as the competition, which is also scheduled to be hosted next summer, may now be moved due to calendar conflicts caused by FIFA’s expanded Club World Cup.