b_350_263_16777215_00_images_stories_FIFA_HQ_Window_Logo.jpgA coalition of leading NGOs, sports organisations and trade unions has written to all four presidential candidates from the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, known as Fifa, urging them to commit to addressing human rights, labour rights and anti-corruption issues in future World Cups if successful in their bid for the presidency.

The election of a new president takes place on 29 May in Zurich. The candidates are Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, Miguel Figo, Michael van Praag, and the incumbent president, Joseph “Sepp” Blatter.

In the questionnaire from the Sport and Rights Alliance (SRA), the candidates are asked whether they will systematically engage with civil society and if in the first 100 days of their presidency they intend to address corruption, labour issues and other human rights concerns around the Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022 World Cups.

More specifically, the candidates are asked if they will take measures to prevent human rights and labour abuses linked to the construction of Qatar 2022 World Cup facilities and infrastructure, and if they will use their position to exert pressure on the Qatari authorities to bring the country’s labour laws into line with international standards and reform the sponsorship system that gives rise to abuses.

Fifa has come under significant fire in the last couple of years over human rights abuses linked to the World Cup.

The run up to Brazil 2014 was marred by police violence against anti-World Cup protestors and forced evictions to make way for infrastructure for the event.

The Qatar 2022 World Cup has been linked to serious abuses of the rights of migrant workers building infrastructure for the event, including deaths at work, non-payment of wages, harsh and dangerous working conditions, and shocking standards of accommodation. Many migrant workers are prevented from leaving the country under the kafala sponsorship system which stipulates that workers need permission from their employer to leave.

Meanwhile, Russia’s appalling record on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights, environmental protection and freedom of expression exposed during the Sochi Winter Olympics last year remains a real concern for the 2018 World Cup.

The questionnaire also asks whether the candidates will continue the needed FIFA reform process, including the implementation of term limits, independent directors, integrity checks and transparency with regard to the remuneration of officials and to the decisions of the Ethics Commission.

The awarding of the Fifa World Cups 2018 and 2022 as well as other incidents in the past have raised severe corruption allegations and damaged the reputation of Fifa.

Eduard Nazarski, Director of Amnesty International Netherlands, said:

“Exploitation of migrant workers, police violence against protestors, government crackdowns on freedom of expression and corruption have become almost as synonymous with the World Cup as the actual football.”

“The election of a new president gives Fifa a chance to turn over a new leaf, to say enough is enough and to use the power and influence of that position to push for positive change.”

“Millions are closely monitoring the Fifa presidential elections and many will be waiting to hear if the new president will be prepared to put the bad old days behind them and harness the power of football to ensure respect for human rights, transparency and sustainability. If he doesn’t, the World Cup will continue to leave widespread misery in its wake.”

Kevin Miles, member of the Football Supporters Europe (FSE) Committee, added: "The FIFA President is not just a figurehead of the organisation. We need a leadership within FIFA that can ensure that World Cups are staged in an atmosphere where football supporters can enjoy the matches and don't have to fear that their human rights are endangered or even violated."

The SRA is calling on whoever becomes the next Fifa president to urgently introduce measures to ensure the World Cup is always organised in a way that respects human rights, the environment and anti-corruption requirements at all stages of the process - from bidding, through to the development and delivery phase to final reporting.

The SRA includes Amnesty International, Football Supporters Europe, Human Rights Watch, International Trade Union Confederation, Terre des Hommes, Transparency International Germany.

For more information, please contact:

For Amnesty International (Amnesty International United Kingdom): Naomi Westland (English, Spanish): +44-020-7033-1548; or: naomi.westland@amnesty.org.uk Follow on Twitter: @newsfromamnesty

For Football Supporters Europe (FSE): Daniela Wurbs (Deutsch, English): +49-179-7511-886; or daniela@fanseurope.org. Follow on Twitter: @FansEurope

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