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FIFPro’s European members have met in the Serbian city of Novi Sad to discuss a wide range of issues in professional football including proposals to change the international match calendar and player transfer system.

Other items on the agenda of the two-day general assembly included how player associations can best help footballers prepare for a second career and ensure they have a secure way to report match-fixing approaches.

FIFPro held the meeting in Serbia in a show of support for national player association Nezavisnost, which operates in a challenging environment. On average, players in Serbia file more than 50 complaints per year over unpaid wages. Representatives of FIFPro and Nezavisnost met with Serbian football federation officials to raise their concerns.

During the assembly, FIFPro’s national player associations considered FIFA plans for new tournaments for clubs and national teams and how a rearranged schedule would affect the working lives of professional footballers in different European countries.

FIFPro is in talks with FIFA and league and club organizations about the proposed tournaments.

“In the light of the current discussions, it would be remiss if FIFPro did not explore the impact of these proposals on players,” Bobby Barnes (pictured above), President of FIFPro Europe, said. “While other stakeholders might have other priorities, the health and wellbeing of the players has to be our first priority.”

FIFPro recently surveyed more than 600 footballers for their views on the current match calendar, and is studying scientific evidence about the amount of recovery time players need between matches.

Member player associations were also updated on FIFPro’s ongoing discussions with football stakeholders about proposed changes to the transfer system, including loan agreements and player agent rules.

In other matters, delegates were briefed on plans for a worldwide rollout of the Red Button app developed by Finland’s player association to provide a secure way for players to report match-fixing approaches.

Delegates were updated on ‘Mind the Gap’, a European Union funded project led by FIFPro to guide players on preparing for a career when their sports career has finished.

Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, FIFPro’s director for policy and strategic relations, was officially announced as new general-secretary of FIFPro Europe. He said he was motivated to tackle the challenges and opportunities in this new position.

“I am excited about building an even stronger voice of players in Europe,” Baer-Hoffman said. “Our member players deserve to be represented and served at the highest level and we’ll continue to do all we can to improve their conditions to play, work and live as footballers.”

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