Rights groups urge contenders to address labour abuses and discrimination

The candidates seeking the presidency of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) should sign up to a set of pledges to prevent human rights abuses and corruption linked to the World Cup and other FIFA events, said a group of leading non-governmental organisations (NGOs) ahead of a debate in the European Parliament featuring three of the five contenders on Wednesday (27 January).

Amnesty International, Football Supporters Europe, Human Rights Watch, Terre des Hommes, and Transparency International Germany have asked the candidates to commit – if elected president – to taking six clear steps that will put FIFA on the road to ensuring its events do not cause or contribute to human rights abuses and corruption. The FIFA presidential election takes place on 26 February.

“FIFA needs fundamental changes and these must be monitored independently in order to ensure effectiveness and restore trust,” said Kerry Moscoguiri, campaigns director at Amnesty International UK. “A new president should mean a new start for FIFA and whoever wins needs to commit to wholesale reform, beginning with these six steps. Otherwise, the world’s most prestigious celebration of the most popular sport on the planet may well continue to be overshadowed by corruption and abuse.”

In a letter to the candidates, the NGOs ask them to pledge to take tangible steps within their first 100 days in office so that effective measures to prevent human rights abuses and corruption are included at every stage of hosting an event, and to adequately address any abuses that do occur in spite of those efforts, from initial bids through to the event itself and, in some cases, its legacy.

In particular, FIFA’s next President should develop effective mechanisms that will allow FIFA to identify and mitigate the risk of human rights and labour rights abuses linked to its events, increase transparency and accountability, promote gender equality and engage in meaningful consultation with organisations, such as trade unions and community groups, likely to be affected by their events.

On the World Cups in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022, the new president should start a process of monitoring the events’ human rights impacts, and publicly report on both the prevalence of significant human rights problems and the effectiveness of any steps those countries take to address them. The candidates have been asked to respond to the NGOs by Friday, 12 February.

FIFA candidates Prince Ali Al Hussein, Jerome Champagne. Tokyo Sexwale will take part in the debate in the European Parliament on Wednesday 27 January. Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa and Gianni Infantino will not take part.

“Fans don’t want to cheer teams in stadiums that cost migrant workers their lives. FIFA can and should work to ensure that its events are not tangled up with human rights problems are avoidable with the right kind of effort,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch. “This election presents a rare chance to move forward on long overdue reforms to bring human rights protections to world football.”

Daniela Wurbs, Coordinator of Football Supporters Europe, added: “It is important that the FIFA presidential candidates at the very least address these six points in order to regain reliance and set a positive tone for the future. Otherwise the image of FIFA will remain the same.”



If elected President of FIFA, I pledge to take the following steps to help ensure that future host countries of World Cups and other FIFA tournaments respect human rights, protect the rights of workers, and uphold international standards of good governance and transparency in connection with the events. I therefore commit to initiating the following six steps and to publicly report on them in my first 100 days:

1. Bidding criteria

I will propose and support that countries bidding to host a World Cup or other FIFA tournament commit to taking effective steps to prevent corruption as well as human rights and labour abuses at all stages of preparation for and hosting of a World Cup or other tournament, and that host countries are required to fulfill the commitments they make, including through enforceable contractual provisions

2. Due diligence

I will put in place effective measures to enable FIFA to identify prevent and mitigate the risk of corruption as well as human rights and labour abuses linked to current and future World Cups and other FIFA events. The measures will include access to remedy for victims of these abuses.

3. Russia 2018 / Qatar 2022

I will call on the Russian authorities to prevent human rights abuses around the 2018 World Cup like those linked to the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, and on the Qatari authorities to take effective steps to secure the rights of migrant workers in the context of the 2022 World Cup

4. Governance and Compliance

I will increase transparency and accountability within FIFA, setting a standard as well for the Continental and National Federations. This includes the publication of integrity assessments, asset and interest declarations of leading officials and managers, and decisions of the FIFA ethics committee. I will establish an Independent Advisory Panel to overview the implementation of these steps and to monitor their implementation and effectiveness.

5. Non-discrimination

I will act to enforce the Third General Provision of FIFA’s statutes on non-discrimination, including protections for women and LGBT people.  I will seek to promote gender equality byinvesting in the women’s game and requiring that countries engaging in discriminatory practices that impact women as athletes and as spectators at FIFA events—including Iran and Saudi Arabia—end these practices as a condition for hosting future FIFA tournaments.

6. Stakeholder involvement

I will develop and implement a meaningful mechanism to engage with and act on the information and recommendations of non-governmental groups and communities who are impacted by, or have a valuable independent perspective on, human rights, labour and corruption risks, associated with the FIFA tournaments. I will seek to mitigate, address and remedy these problems.

If elected President of FIFA, I will publicly report on the progress I have made in honouring these commitments. 

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