FIFA: Presidential candidates should pledge to end human rights abuses linked to World Cup

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 to that effective measures to prevent human rights and anti-corruption, and to adequately address any abuses that do occur in spite of those efforts, are included at every stage of hosting an event, 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 progress 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 can and should mitigate risks and enhance opportunities of events on children, both direct and indirect. Strong leadership is needed for the right kind of decisions." Said Ignacio Packer, Secretary General of Terre des Hommes. "The election has to come up with an especially courageous, skillful and gifted moral leader to seize the opportunity to bring human rights protections to world football."

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