The Professional Footballers’ Association have come under attack over their young player welfare record after the game’s major bodies failed to appear at the House of Commons to support the launch of the ‘Players Trust’ - an independent advisory group designed chiefly for footballers.
Richard Caborn, the Minister of Sport form 2001 to 2007 and former Sheffield Central MP, who has supported the Trust since its inception nearly a decade ago, also criticised the Football Association and Premier League for not embracing the idea of independent help for players preyed on by agents and advisors.
At an event organised by Clive Betts, another Sheffield MP, Caborn said: “The PFA has got numbers and the members ought to be asking. The players have got to be saying - is the PFA delivering for us? The disappointing part that I got when I met the PFA was the U-16s bit. There was nothing in place for the U-16s and there’s very little now.
“I’ve been at this for 10 years or more. I just think it’s something that would be a great accolade around the world to English football. It would be absolutely independent - that to me is the challenge. They ought to rise to that challenge - and they’ve got an opportunity today.”
Caborn also highlighted the role of some agents in distorting the decisions made by many young players. “Nobody’s taking control,” he said. “We’re letting our young people be exposed - I’m not saying their all bad, they’re not - to a system which is totally unregulated. I think that is disgraceful.”
Simon Weston, who suffered severe burns during the Falklands War and is now a charity campaigner, launched the Trust, saying: “Money has over taken everything in our games. Independent support networks for these young athletes has been totally ignored and left many young talents feeling exposed and often feeling very vulnerable. Parents have felt they are silenced by these institutions for fear of speaking up to challenge. These parents have become very isolated with no one to turn to for good honest independent advice away from those with financial agendas.”