How Marshall Munetsi’s voice helped FIFA overturn Zimbabwe suspension

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Marshall Munetsi with fellow Zimbabwean Solomon Mudege who is the Head of FIFA Development Programmes (Africa) as well as Regional Director of the FIFA Member Associations Division for Africa Gelson Fernandes early this year as he pushed for the lifting of the country's suspension from international football

Amsterdam – FIFPRO’S Global Player Council member Marshall Munetsi used his platform to highlight how FIFA’s suspension of Zimbabwe was having a negative effect on the country – and the Reims midfielder engaged in constructive dialogue that helped his country become reinstated.

FIFA’s decision to suspend Zimbabwe in February 2022 due to governmental interference meant the men’s, women’s and youth national teams were unable to take part in qualifiers and that the country’s clubs were unable to compete in continental competitions.

As one of his country’s leading players, Munetsi used his voice to consistently highlight the issue.

Munetsi and members of Zimbabwe’s player union met with representatives from FIFA at FIFPRO House in Amsterdam, Netherlands in March 2023 to discuss the issue. Four months later, FIFA overturned Zimbabwe’s ban.

“It is important for us players to speak up about issues like this – and the situation in Zimbabwe is one of the reasons I joined FIFPRO’s Global Player Council,” said Munetsi, speaking in March 2023.

Marshall Munetsi in Warriors colours

“It helps highlight how instances such as this are putting the younger generation, particularly in Africa, at a disadvantage.

“As players, we have a voice. And through a union, we can use that collective voice to push for positive change. I will keep on using my voice to help the next generation in Africa and beyond.”

FIFPRO’s Global Player Council (GPC) is a platform for active players with international experience that strengthens the role of professional footballers in shaping their industry.

The council assists FIFPRO and its 66 affiliated national player associations to represent men’s and women’s players in negotiations about cross-border issues that directly affect them, including the international match calendar, employment standards, the use of personal data, social media abuse, and more.

Thirty-five players currently sit on the council, including Munetsi, Lucy Bronze, Giorgio Chiellini, Saki Kumagai, Andre Onana, Nicolas Tagliafico, and Arturo Vidal to name but a few.

FIFPRO’s Global Players Council has led to significant positive change in the football industry

Since the GPC relaunched last year, men’s and women’s players on the council have used their collective voice to bring about significant change in the football industry.

A letter to FIFA that secured historic changes for women’s players
In October 2022, FIFPRO, its member unions and over 150 players from 25 national teams – in what was the largest piece of collective action ever undertaken by women’s football players – sent a letter to FIFA President Gianni Infantino calling for:

An equal framework of rules and conditions for the men’s and Women’s World Cups, including equal prize money for senior World Cups.

A global guarantee of at least 30 percent of prize money for players who compete in the Women’s World Cup.

A binding, global collective agreement between FIFA and the players that enshrines these commitments.

The player-led pressure put on FIFA resulted in football’s world governing body implementing conditions and service levels at Australia/New Zealand 2023 that were equal to the men’s World Cup in Qatar, as well as a sum of USD 110m to be distributed to players on the basis of team performance at the tournament.

The involvement of Global Player Council members was crucial throughout the whole process, especially in providing FIFPRO feedback and getting other team-mates on board.

“In every single country in the world, there’s still something missing or something that could be done a lot better,” said Lucy Bronze in March 2023. “The fact we’ve got that collective goal means that together we feel that common goal – and everybody knows that strength comes in numbers. When we inspire each other, the voice becomes louder.”

 

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