The Polish Union of Footballers (PZP) was established on February 28, 1997, on the initiative of Marek Pięta, former player of Górnik Wałbrzych, Widzew Łódź, and Hannover 96. He served as the President of the association until his death, on November 11, 2016. The founding group consisted of a total of 38 players from three clubs at the time: Widzew Łódź, Ceramika Opoczno, and Rakowa Częstochowa.
The main goal of the union is to increase the solidarity between the football players and to promote and defend the rights of the players..
Shortly after starting the activity, Polish Union of Footballers obtained the approval and support of FIFPro – International Federation of Professional Footballers. In March 1998, during the congress of the International Federation of Professional Footballers in Tel Aviv, PZP became a full member of FIFPro – an organization officially recognized as a social partner in negotiations on any changes to the status, rights, and obligations of a footballer. Thanks to this members of the PZP are provided with legal assistance in 59 FIFPro member countries, both before and during the conclusion of the contract.
After the death of Marek Pięta, in November 2016, during the General Meeting of the Management Board, Artur Leśniak was appointed the President of the Union and held the position until the beginning of 2019. OnApril 4, 2019, Euzebiusz Smolarek, the 47-fold representative of Poland, became the President of the PZP.
At the press conference held on this occasion, the new President of the Union talked about an ongoing major projects, the course of activities, and his motivations for the decision to assume the position of the President.
– I would like to contribute to an even greater development of the union. I would like the footballers in Poland to feel even safer. Working in the PZP’s Management Board is my second career. I have a great experience gained from many countries, I have seen a lot and I believe that as a union we can achieve a lot. I have ambitions to improve a few matters regarding the situation of footballers in Poland – said Euzebiusz Smolarek, President of PZP.
The main goals of the union are the promotion and protection of footballers’ rights, but also the education of players, a smooth transition into a second career, and protection of the health of footballers, especially bearing in mind the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on football regulations.
Since 2010, with the establishment by the Polish Football Association of the Chamber for Solving Sport Disputes – a jurisdictional body adjudicating the existence, validity, or termination of football contracts, PZP has been entitled to appoint six out of sixteen members of this body. In this way, the PZP actively represented the players’ interests in disputes with clubs, in particular in matters related to the termination of contracts. In December 2012, the Management Board of the Polish Football Association admitted the first representative of the Polish Union of Footballers to the 27 adjudicators of the Football Arbitral Court (PSP). Four years later, in December 2016, this body was composed of another four representatives of PZP. Currently, after the PSP has taken over the competencies of the Chamber for Solving Sport Disputes, the PSP is composed of nine lawyers – PZP’s representatives, representing the interests of the players’ community, on a parity basis. One representative appointed by the PZP sits in the Presidium of the Football Arbitral Court of the Polish Football Association. This resolution is an undoubted success of the PZP that sums up the Union’s many years of efforts to properly shape the dispute resolution system by the NDRC model required by FIFA. Thanks to this, footballers can count on a fair and transparent resolution of their disputes with clubs in two-stage proceedings in PSP. Regarding both, issues related to contractual stability and financial disputes with clubs. Maintenance of the principle of parity by the PSP, for years postulated by the PZP, under FIFA guidelines, creates a situation in which each party of the dispute has an equal representation. The interests of footballers are now properly secured not only in matters related to contractual stability but also in matters related to financial matters.
In March 2015, thanks to the work of the Social Dialogue Committee, and efforts of PZP representatives, it was possible to create regulations expressed in the groundbreaking act III / 54 of the PZPN Board – Minimum requirements for standard player contracts in the professional football sector. The act contains revolutionary changes to the previous resolution II / 12 of May 19, 2002, of the PZPN Board – Rules governing the relationship between a sport club and a professional player. These rules comprehensively regulate the conditions to be met by a professional contract and introduce an innovative system enabling the unilateral termination of a player’s contract. Particularly, the resolution defines a catalog of important reasons entitling clubs and players to terminate the contract due to the other party’s fault and specifies the detailed mechanism of proceeding in such matters and the consequences of contract termination.
In February 2021, during the International FIFPro Conference with the participation of representatives of all professional football unions affiliated with this organization, full membership of the Union in FIFPro structures was restored. Thanks to this, the PZP can now fully represent the interests of its members also at the international level.