Statement: Acting Commissioner supports calls for child footballers’ rights to be protected by law

Commissioner welcomes report from Scottish Football Supporters Association

Nick Hobbs, Acting Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland:  

This important report from the Scottish Football Supporters Association (SFSA) on improving football governance in Scotland strongly recommends the establishment of an independent regulator. We have long supported calls that child footballers’ rights would be best protected by law, rather than self-regulation.  

“The current model continues to overwhelmingly privilege the vested interests of the clubs over children’s human rights. Scottish football’s governance needs to have human rights embedded into its operating model to ensure that child players are not exploited. Despite some positive moves over the last decade, we still have an environment where young players are pursuing their football dreams, while the clubs are treating them as financial commodities. This includes deliberately placing them in unequal and disadvantageous legal relationships which place the interests of the club before the child’s.  

“We can’t call football ‘the beautiful game’ in Scotland if the young players on the pitch have such little power in their lives. As one young player summed up his feelings to our office: ‘I would like to have control over my life and do what I want to do.’  

“An independent regulator to scrutinise and improve the system is one key part of addressing the structural and governance issues in Scottish football and ensuring that children’s human rights are embedded as a priority. The Scottish Government must take the opportunity to protect the rights of child footballers in law.”  

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