Tony Azevedo
Courtesy of: Kirby Lee - USA Today Sports
BARCELONA, Spain, July 16. THOUGH discussed through the years in swimming circles in the United States, the international water polo community is coming together to create a players' union on the eve of the world championships.

An announcement is set to be made live on the Internet Saturday in Barcelona at the Club Natacio Atletic at 11:45 a.m. local time. Tony Azevedo, who has been a fixture on the American water polo national team for nearly 15 years, is the president of the Water Polo Players' Organization. Among the other 16 founders are American Olympians Merrill Moses and Brenda Villa, as well as athletes from Japan, Croatia, Serbia and Canada. According to the group's website, the goals of the organization are to:

-- increase the solidarity of water polo players around the globe

-- promote and develop water polo and provide member support for water polo players internationally
-- develop an international standard for negotiating and fulfilling water polo contracts
-- serve as the exclusive collective international voice of the world's water polo athletes and give them a say in the global development of the sport.

This would be the first athletes' union of any kind in aquatic sports, though American swimmers have bantered around the idea for two or three years. Similar to pool swimmers, water polo players struggle to earn a living, causing American athletes to spend time in Europe playing professional water polo in the off season. Though full details of the plans of the Water Polo Players' Organization have not yet been revealed, it is likely that funding for athletes around the world will be a prime topic of discussion.

Free membership into the organization includes access to a printable template for athletes to use when creating contracts. For a fee, members can get advice and help in negotiating contracts from the organization's legal team and get in touch with various agencies.

To view Saturday's live streaming announcement, click here.

To learn more about the Water Polo Players' Organization, click here.