FutbolJobs Awards: AFE honored for its work on behalf of soccer players over the past 46 years

Premios > FutbolJobs Awards: AFE honored for its work on behalf of soccer players over the past 46 years
Valentín Botella Nicolás presents the FutbolJobs Award to David Aganzo on behalf of the AFE for his work on behalf of soccer players over the last 46 years.

Aganzo: “The image of Spanish soccer has been badly affected by the Rubiales case”.

The Professional Football Players Association has been doing extraordinary work with professional soccer players for the past 46 years. For this reason, FutbolJobs, a platform designed to help all soccer players, has awarded this union that looks after the interests of its more than 14,000 members. Valentín Botella Nicolás, CEO of FutbolJobs, presented David Aganzo, president of the AFE, with the FutbolJobs award. The president of the AFE assessed the current situation of Spanish soccer, emphasizing the situation of the RFEF and explained the projects being developed by the AFE.

Do you know the FutbolJobs project?

Yes. Initiatives of this type are to be welcomed and are sure to be greatly appreciated by the players.

Do you think that your work is interesting when it comes to putting players in contact with clubs to which they would not have access without these new technologies?

Any project aimed at helping soccer players, the group we represent, is positively valued by AFE.

FutbolJobs has awarded AFE for its support to soccer players for more than 40 years. How has the support needed by those players in the 1970s and today’s players changed?

Today the problems are different. At that time, they hardly had any rights, they were subjected to the dictatorship of clubs and RFEF. I am referring to the right of retention, the exclusion of soccer players from Social Security or the age limit that did not allow the U23 player to play in the Third Division. Thanks to the work and sacrifice of many people who have worked for AFE over the years and, of course, of the soccer players, these slavery-like rules were eliminated and they were able to be better protected by their union. There are always issues to improve or fight for, but thanks to the association, the group we represent is very well protected. Now, among other issues, we are working on the reform of RD 1006/85, on the implementation of specific training courses for professional soccer players once they have retired, big data treatment (how their data is treated, who uses it and for what purpose), image rights, development of women’s soccer…

AFE has been organizing AFE Sessions for unemployed soccer players for many years now. What percentage of players find a team after them?

Always more than 90 percent in each of the three we organize each year. It is one of the most important projects of the association and one of the ones I am most excited about. It is fundamental for soccer players without a team, who are living a very complicated situation, to keep alive the illusion and the options of continuing to play soccer. It is very gratifying to see that this happens in most cases. AFE spares no effort. The aim is to make the best human, technical and material resources available to the players. They should feel as if they are part of an elite team so that when they find a club they are prepared from minute one. When I was elected president of AFE I promised that there would be AFE Sessions for female players and I believe they will become a reality.

Let’s go to the conflict that took place with the Spanish women’s national team, with the alleged Oliva pact. Do you think the problem has been solved?

I believe that the international players were not well advised or counseled. The problems they had and continue to have are real, but I think they could have been managed in a different way that would have exposed the players less. We must protect them and I have the feeling that those who represented them did not do so. I know that several of them, with the passage of time, have come to that conclusion, they are not at all happy with the union of some of them. I believe that steps are being taken to ensure that they are treated with the equality and respect they deserve, that their labor rights as workers are full, but the road is still long.

You have had multiple conflicts with Rubiales. After everything that happened, he’s gone. How do you see the situation after a few months? AFE participated in the complaint.

We are involved in the proceedings that are open in a court in Majadahonda. The judge is investigating everything related to the Arabian Super Cup, the alleged spying on me and, finally, what happened in Salobreña. Now it is time to wait, trust in justice and accept its decision.

You have relationships with soccer people from all over the world as president of FIFPRO. How badly was the image of Spanish soccer affected by all that?

This is something that worries me a lot. The image of Spanish soccer has been badly affected at the international level, but not only because of all that, but also because of what is still happening. When I travel abroad, all the world soccer personalities I talk to tell me the same thing: ‘What’s going on in Spain? How is it possible that these kinds of episodes are happening?’ Hopefully we can overcome these sad episodes in the black history of Spanish soccer without serious consequences and that a new stage of greater clarity and dialogue between the institutions is opened. Surely there will continue to be disagreements, but always with the will to build, quite the opposite of what we have experienced in this stage of Luis Rubiales at the head of the RFEF, which I have not yet considered finished, in which everything continues to be problems and conflicts.

Do you think this episode may affect the way Spain will be seen in the world as a co-host of the 2030 World Cup?

I hope that all the problems we are experiencing do not have international consequences and that Spain is a worthy host of the World Cup, but we must be realistic and realize that Morocco is taking advantage of the situation to try to take the final that should be played in Spain. Losing it would be an absolute failure of the RFEF and the Spanish government.

Rocha has already been proclaimed president of the RFEF. if nothing changes, there will be new elections after the Olympics. Will you consider becoming a candidate?

This situation should never have arisen if elections had been forced to be called immediately as stipulated in the bylaws. As to whether I would run, I have said it repeatedly: I have a lot of work and responsibilities as president of AFE and FIFPRO. Both mandates are in force and my only concern is to defend Spanish and international soccer players.

How many people have asked you to apply?

Quite a few people have called me and, of course, I thank them for their trust. However, I insist, it does not cross my mind today to be a candidate for the presidency of the RFEF.

As president of FIFPRO he spoke with the CEO of the Superliga. What do you think of the project?

When I spoke to the CEO of the Superliga, the first thing I told him was that they did not take into account the opinion of the players, something that I do not understand and that seems to me to be disrespectful to the players. The players are the protagonists. Without them there is no soccer. Therefore, they must be fully informed of all the details of a competition that, for the time being, is a project. I believe that there is still a lot to be known and explained. Therefore, I am always in favor of an open dialogue between all the parties involved and, of course, the footballers’ unions must be protagonists when it comes to giving our opinion and taking it into account when it comes to making decisions.

Do you think it would be interesting for soccer players? What percentage of players would benefit from the Superliga being played?

I have already said on other occasions that I do not like a competition that can be elitist, because I defend all players equally. But the key is that they explain the project well and that they take into account that there must be a reasonable timetable that prioritizes the health and care of the players.

The issue of the tight schedule for top-level players is a serious problem. Are the players considering lobbying for a reduction in the number of games played in a year?

This is not a new issue; AFE and FIFPRO have been warning about this serious problem for a long time. There are many players who are getting injured and in most cases, I am convinced, it is because of the unsustainable pace of competition and travel to which they are subjected. Rest is essential. This is demonstrated by various accredited medical reports. The player’s health is non-negotiable and must be a priority when making decisions about competitions. Many colleagues have expressed their concern, recognizing that they cannot continue at this pace because the wear and tear is brutal and inhuman.

What projects do you have for players in categories that are on the borderline between being professionals and amateurs, be it Second or Third Federation?

We have signed the first and historic Collective Bargaining Agreement for soccer players in the First Federation, and we announced some time ago that we want to act in the same way with the Second and Third Federations. I promised it in our last General Assembly and the Future Plan is already a reality, a new savings fund -with AFE’s own funds- for the players of the 3rd Federation, 1st Federation FUTFEM and 2nd Federation FUTFEM. Scholarships, new agreements with training centers, mental health protection… These are issues of concern to us and we continue to invest the necessary resources in them.

Several offers from Saudi Arabian teams have gone viral on FutbolJobs. Does AFE receive many inquiries about proposals from this country?

Not only in Saudi Arabia, but in soccer in general in Arab countries and around the world. Spanish soccer players enjoy great prestige worldwide. The queries are usually related to your day-to-day business or issues related to contracts, etc. It is very important to remember that from AFE we recommend to our affiliates that when they have any type of doubt, they should send us the contracts before signing them to be reviewed by our Legal Counsel. And I would also like to highlight the work of the international delegate, whose function is to help the large number of Spanish players who play outside our country.

What do you think of the emergence of this market in soccer?

The Arab world has been betting on its growth and development for years. In the case of Saudi Arabia, the stakes have been really high with offers that have revolutionized the market. For AFE and FIFPRO, as footballers’ unions, our job is to ensure that everything is perfectly regulated, that contracts are strictly enforced and that no player is harmed in any way. In a word, that their labor rights are respected at all times and that the conditions for exercising their profession are adequate.