No sense in having black players' unions, FIFPro says

HOOFDDORP, Netherlands Fri Nov 9, 2012 1:50pm EST

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HOOFDDORP, Netherlands (Reuters) - Separate unions for black players would not make sense and would make it more difficult to stand up for the rights of footballers, the world players' union FIFPro said on Friday.

Secretary General Theo van Seggelen said that FIFPro, which represents 60,000 players worldwide through national affiliates and holds regular talks with UEFA, FIFA and the European Commission, would not be able to exist if black players formed their own unions.

There has been talk in England of a breakaway movement by black footballers to fight racism and the lack of inclusiveness after several said they were unhappy with the steps currently being taken.

England's Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) is a FIFPro member.

"If you have to protect the rights of 60,000 professional players, you cannot make a difference between a black player or a white player, or a Muslim or a Catholic, or a rich player or a poor player," Van Seggelen told Reuters.

"We said when we started rebuilding FIFPro in 1992, we agreed that we would have a global organisation. For us every player is equal. We respect the player in the English third division, as much as the player in China, as well as the player from Congo.

"It doesn't make sense to have unions for black players," he added. "If that is the case there is no reason to have FIFPro.

"We can only represent the players worldwide when we everyone accepts that every player is equal. I am 100 percent against. Our philosophy is equal rights for players and on a global level that is not easy."

Van Seggelen was also concerned by Chelsea's allegations that referee Mark Clattenburg made an inappropriate comment to Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel in a Premier League match against Manchester United.

English players' union chief Gordon Taylor said a comment by the referee was of a racist nature. Clattenburg has not commented and an FA and police probe are underway.

Chelsea's complaint comes in the wake of their defender John Terry being banned for four matches after the FA found him guilty of racially abusing Queen Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.

"Now, it's going much too far. The whole football family has to try to concentrate on prevention and not try to point fingers," van Seggelen said.

(Editing by Mark Meadows; brian.homewood@thomsonreuters.com; +41 79 917 1402; Reuters Messaging: brian.homewood.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)

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