Ahead of his appearance at WFS Europe, Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) CEO Maheta Molango speaks exclusively with World Football Summit about good governance, player empowerment and the benefit of learning from other sports all over the world at a WFS event.
PFA CEO Maheta Molango believes footballers are finally finding their voice and that they are ready to play a central role in the sport’s reform.
Prior to appearing at World Football Summit’s flagship WFS Europe event at the Wanda Metropolitano from 22-23 September, Molango explained that he has been traversing the UK, as he embarks on a roadshow that will see the new union chief speak to every single male and female professional player in the country.
That tour has started at the top of the game, with Molango pleased with the response to his new plans for the PFA, naming Cesar Azpilicueta, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, David De Gea, Juan Mata and Jordan Henderson as five dressing room leaders that reacted positively to those initial conversations.
Explaining why the Premier League has been ticked off first, Molango said that players at the very top of the game have been unaware of how the PFA can help them, and that it has been seen as only a benefit to players further down the footballing pyramid.
The industry leaders keep on coming at #WFSEurope…
🗣️ Athanasios Andreou (@NTT_DATA_UK), Fabimar Franchi (@CONMEBOL), Jürgen Griesbeck (@CommonGoalOrg), @GenYFootball (@FIFAcom), @Maheta_Molango (@PFA)
— World Football Summit (@WFSummit) September 8, 2021
“It was really cool to see these people be positively impressed by what the PFA does and what they can do for them,” Molango told World Football Summit of his first round of meetings with Premier League players.
“The very interesting thing is that a couple of years ago people in the Premier League would question: ‘I’m earning good money, I’m doing okay, I’m playing in the best league in the world, why do I need a union?’
“I think the last few months have shown that there is certain stuff they cannot solve on their own, even if they want to. Online abuse, financial fair play, squad limits, the amount of fixtures they’re playing, VAR and so on. More than ever, it makes sense to have a union, it makes sense for players to support the work of the union because they are seeing very tangibly how the union can help.”
Molango took over the role from Gordon Taylor in July, stepping into a position that Taylor held for four decades.
A former player himself, Molango is a lawyer that was Atletico Madrid’s legal counsel and also CEO of RCD Mallorca. It’s safe to say he has a rounded view of the entire football industry, which Molango believes is at a critical juncture as it plots its course for the future.
“One principle will guide my leadership of our union, and it is this: the PFA belongs to the players.”
At the start of his first full week in charge, our new Chief Executive, @Maheta_Molango, outlines his commitment to PFA members. Find out more:https://t.co/OIQ0OjCvEE
— Professional Footballers' Association (@PFA) July 5, 2021
“I think we have a wonderful opportunity because the football industry is at a crossroads,” added the former striker. “Some of the more traditional assumptions about football governance need at least to be reassessed and I think it’s a great time for the players, who are the main actors, to have a strong voice. It’s a generation of players developing who have access to information that was not necessarily the case 15/20 years ago.”
By finding their voice, Molango is certain that players at every level are becoming more and more empowered to mould the sport into their own image.
He continued: “Players have access to information, they have an opinion and they have got a voice and the way I see my challenge is to make the PFA a player-centric initiative where those players in such a critical moment for the industry make their voice heard that allows them to have a real impact on their profession, on their future.
“There’s too often an assumption that players should just play football and that’s it. What I’m trying to do is to build upon everything that is positive and see what can be improved. I was a member and I saw it from the outside and now from the inside, I see that the PFA has such huge potential to have an impact on the game.”
Molango – who took part in the inaugural World Football Summit event in 2016 and also at the first edition of WFS Live – returns to World Football Summit by joining a panel on Good Governance at WFS Europe and, from there, he will lead a team of industry experts on the topic as they build out a white-paper on the subject in 2022.
For the former Atletico Madrid academy player, this is an exciting opportunity to pick the brains of fellow figureheads at the top of different sporting organisations all over the world to share knowledge and learn from each other.
“There’s not one size that fits all,” he surmised on what good governance looks like in 2021. “The important thing for me is to spark a conversation and to see what good practice looks like and what you can learn from others. I don’t think there’s a need to reinvent the wheel, but I think there is a need to see what is working in another kind of context, understand how this may apply to you in your jurisdiction and maybe adapt it so it fits to you.
“[WFS Europe] is a unique opportunity because, typically, for you to go around and do this type of roadshows take a lot of time and resources, which a lot of the time is exactly what these executives are missing, especially time. To all of a sudden have those industry leaders at the same time, in the same place and available to talk and to share proper experience is invaluable.”
Tickets are still available to attend WFS Europe in-person or online, with ePass, Corporate and Delegate tickets available HERE.