With football being a relatively short career, Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa has encouraged athletes to learn the business of football and its supporting eco systems while still active in their playing careers so they can participate in the industry.
Addressing the International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPRO) General Assembly in Cape Town on Tuesday, the Minister expressed concerns about what happens to footballers when they retire from playing.
“Some players may face challenges during the transition from a playing career to a post-playing career, and there is an increasing recognition of the importance of supporting athletes in this transition phase.
“This is where the role of FIFPRO becomes important. Your members need to be empowered; therefore, capacity building should be high in your list of priorities. It should not be by coincidence rather it must be a deliberate and guided process.
“We have seen examples of some top clubs around the world bringing in former players to their coaching and management structures. This is how we have seen former players emerge as top coaches. Yet, many players retire and have nowhere to turn to,” the Minister said.
He emphasised the importance of finding ways for former players, especially those outside the capital centres of football in Europe and Asia, to make a living and to contribute to the sport when their playing careers are over.
“Many former players transition into coaching or management roles within the world of football. They may become youth coaches, assistant coaches, or even head coaches at various levels. Some also take on administrative roles within football clubs or organizations.
“Several retired football players find success in the media industry. They become analysts or commentators for television and radio broadcasts, providing insights and commentary on games and events.
“Some also contribute to print or online publications as sports writers, bloggers, or content creators, sharing their perspectives and experiences in written form. A few players venture into entrepreneurship, starting their own businesses or investing in various ventures,” the Minister said.
Racism in football continues to be a challenge
The Minister called on FIFPRO to think about how it can contribute to uprooting racism in football following a report noting that racism is the most reported form of discrimination reported.
“Players, coaches, officials, and fans continue to be abused because of the colour of their skin. Despite interventions by football authorities, this abuse is continuing, meaning more should be done.
Kick It Out, the organisation dedicated to stamping out discrimination in football, states that in the 2022 – 2023 season, it received 1 007 reports of discriminatory behaviour in football from grassroots level, professional level, and across social media.
“This is a 65 percent increase in incidents reported to the organisation in the 2021 – 2022 season. Kick It Out found that racism is the most reported form of discrimination reported, accounting for nearly half (49 percent) of all cases reported.
“Kick It Out also observed increasing reports of online abuse. The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) reports that during the 2022 Men’s World Cup, almost 20 000 abusive social media posts were aimed at players, coaches, and officials. Kick It Out has also observed increasing reports of sexist behaviour or misogyny. If anything, Sport should contribute towards Social Cohesion instead of being a source of division,” the Minister said.
Kick It Out was established to fight racism in football in 1993. Then in 1997, it expanded its mandate to tackle all forms of discrimination.