Pro athletes unite in declaration of human and labour rights


Chris Long joins teammate Malcom Jenkins in NFL players protest against racial inequality and police brutality in the USA

THEY ALL WANNA BE IN ON IT. All the players associations in the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB—they have all teamed up with the World Players Association in support of the Universal Declaration of Player Rights

The declaration was unveiled December 14 2017 at a gathering of 40 players’ unions reps hosted by the NFL Players association.

The World Players Association, is affiliated with 100 organizations that represent 85,000 professional athletes worldwide. The Declaration was developed over the last two years and incorporates recent feedback from thousands of players provided through wide-ranging surveys conducted by player associations.

It is also firmly anchored in international human rights law and core International Labour Organisation standards.

The Declaration makes the obvious point that “human rights cannot be ignored because players put on uniforms,” said DeMaurice Smith, an executive director of the NFL Players Association.

“It’s reminding everyone that where we start in this process is the men and women who play sports did not choose to give up the basic human and labour rights that we would want for every worker.”

The launch of the Universal Declaration of Player Rights comes in the wake of heated public reaction to protests against racial inequality and police brutality taken by then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and other NFL players. The players would  kneel or sit during the U.S. national anthem.

New rules for fair play beyond the game

“The rule books of world sport impose thousands of pages of onerous obligations, but none clearly spell out the internationally recognised human rights of athletes,” said Brendan Schwab, Executive Director of the World Players Association.

“Athletes’ rights are human rights,” said Minky Worden, Director of Global Initiatives at Human Rights Watch, which is a member of the SRA.

“We shouldn’t even have to say it, but players are workers and all too often face abuse and discrimination,”

Living up to the principles set out in the Declaration will bring big changes to how sports are run and players are treated. For example the Declaration states:

  •     Every player has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
  •     Every player has the right to organise and collectively bargain.
  •     Every player has the right to share fairly in the economic activity and wealth of his or her sport which players have helped generate, underpinned by fair and just pay and working conditions.
  •     Every player must be able to access an effective remedy when his or her human rights are not respected and upheld.

Men and women work to create the sport

“Men and women from around the world commit their bodies and minds to sport that in almost every case becomes a full time job. The reality is that while we love the game and the people who play it we can never forget that it is the men and women whose work gives us our sport,” said DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the NFL Players Association.

- 30 -




Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.