FIFA’s second report on human rights misses sustainable approach

December 3, 2018

FIFA’s Human Rights Advisory Board, an independent panel with a mandate to look into how FIFA tackles its human rights issues, published its second report in November 2018. (How independence is to be understood in the context of FIFA is perhaps shown by what happened to its Governance Committee: former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and others resigned in May 2017 from FIFA’s governance committee (which is not the human rights committee) saying that their independence was undercut and holding out no hope for internal reform [see: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/dec/21/our-sin-take-task-fifa-seriously and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/02/fifa-governance-committee-starts-dealing-with-a-human-rights-policy/])

The report covered the period from October 2017 to September 2018, and while it highlights progress it also shows soccer’s governing body still has a lot of work to do. The advisory board only began its work in March 2017, and described human rights as “still in the relatively early stages of being embedded in FIFA’s culture,” acknowledging that past decisions and contracts make it hard to deal with human rights issues. That can be seen by the large number of recommendations involving the Russia 2018 World Cup and the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Of the advisory board’s six recommendations for Qatar 2022, FIFA still has work to do in two areas: using its leverage to try and improve the ‘kafala’ labor system so that it is more in line with workers’ rights, and encouraging companies linked to World Cup-related employment to do more to meet international human rights standards. The focus on World cups misses out on the same issues at the Club World Cup which takes place in the UAE in December 2018.

The human rights advisory board’s existence appears in some respects to be a reaction to the criticism FIFA received over the decision to award Qatar the right to host the 2022 World Cup, but the World Cup is far bigger than just the stadiums, and ..FIFA’s narrow focus on stadium workers means it misses the chance to create a long-term positive World Cup legacy in regards to human rights.

The report highlighted that FIFA “needs to invest in a sustainable approach” to human rights rather than just provide superficial fixes. Improvements that are made when issues are in the spotlight are often fluid and can be rolled back once the world’s attention swings to another issue.

One issue that the advisory board brought up, and which will be addressed in more detail in the next report, is how women in Iran have been banned from attending men’s soccer matches.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/06/27/new-global-center-for-sport-and-human-rights-created-to-address-abuses/

One Response to “FIFA’s second report on human rights misses sustainable approach”


  1. […] FIFA’s second report on human rights misses sustainable approach […]


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