FIFA urged to act on human rights violators

FIFA urged to act on human rights violators
The international football governing body has been told to take action against nations with bad human rights records.
2 min read
15 April, 2016
A new report has urged FIFA to "consider suspending or terminating" its relationship with World Cup hosts that have bad human rights records.

The independent Harvard University report, commissioned by the football governing body itself, outlines recommendations on embedding respect for human rights across its global operations.

It suggests "evaluating the severity of risks to people across both its activities and its relationships" while "building and using its leverage to address these risks as determinedly as it does to pursue its commercial interests".

FIFA also needs to provide "greater transparency in managing human rights risks and improve access to remedy," the report states, urging it to routinely discuss key issues with "external stakeholders, including those whose human rights are at risk, and disclosing its efforts and progress."

"FIFA governs and supports a global network of over 200 national football associations and is connected through its tournaments to thousands of businesses. As for any international sports organisation today, this kind of global footprint brings with it significant risks to people's basic dignity and welfare," John Ruggie, the author of the report said.

FIFA must use "its influence to address these human rights risks as determinedly as it does to pursue its commercial interests," he added.

But the governing body responded to the report maintaining it is fully "committed to respecting human rights."

FIFA is "committed to playing its part in ensuring respect for human rights and to being a leader among international sports organisations in this important area," Gianni Infantino, President of the Federation of International Football Association said.

Earlier this month, an Amnesty International report exposed migrant workers building a stadium that will host football matches for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, have faced systematic abuse, with some cases amounting to forced labour.

Read More: 'Labour abuse' at Qatar World Cup venue exposed

Amnesty compiled the 52-page report based on interviews from February to May last year with 132 construction workers at the Khalifa International Stadium, one of several arenas that will host World Cup matches.

The London-based group interviewed 99 migrants doing landscaping work in a surrounding sports complex that is not directly related to the games, and three other gardeners working elsewhere.

The small, wealthy Gulf Arab state is building facilities to hold the 2022 soccer World Cup and has imported hundreds of thousands of construction workers for that purpose, drawing more attention to the conditions of its migrant labour community.

Qatar announced long-awaited but modest labour reforms in October following international criticism by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other rights groups.