Qaṭar: Open letter to FIFA on human rights and the potential expansion of the 2022 World Cup
The following is an open letter sent in early March 2019 to FIFA about human rights concerns amidst talks of expanding the 2022 World Cup, scheduled to be held in Qatar, to other countries in the Gulf region. The letter is signed by eight NGOs, trade unions, players’ unions and fans groups. For more info on the response from FIFA, see: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/47530042.
Dear Mr Infantino
We are writing as a global group of non-governmental organisations, trade unions, players’ unions and fans groups working to defend and promote human rights and transparency in sport, in relation to the forthcoming FIFA Council Meeting on 14-15 March where proposals to expand the 2022 World Cup will be discussed.
Given the possibility that an enlarged 2022 World Cup could potentially require additional countries to host the tournament, we remind FIFA of the commitment it has made to enshrine human rights, transparency and sustainability criteria in its World Cup hosting and bidding process – something we welcomed in 2017, in addition to the adoption of FIFA’s Human Rights Policy.
As such, we call on you to publicly confirm that any assessments of potential co-hosts for 2022 would follow a process that includes these criteria, similar to that approved for the 2026 World Cup. This would include, amongst other things, the same requirement for any potential co-host to provide “guarantees of compliance with international human rights and labour standards from the government and host cities... as well as from the entities responsible for the construction and renovation of stadiums, training sites, hotels and airport.”
Such an approach is necessary to meet FIFA’s commitments in its own Statutes and Human Rights Policy as well as its corporate responsibility to respect human rights as elaborated in the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights.
In applying the hosting and bidding criteria, FIFA must ensure that it identifies and assesses the specific human rights risks of each potential host country, including whether or not they can be prevented or mitigated, and obliges potential hosts to develop a corrective action plan under FIFA’s leadership.
With respect to additional hosts in the Gulf region, specific human rights risks relevant to the hosting of the World Cup that FIFA must consider include exploitative labour systems that make migrant workers vulnerable to abuse; discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation and religion; as well as restrictions on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression, and threats to human rights defenders.
We believe that the application of FIFA’s Human Rights Policy and its bidding and hosting criteria have the potential to play an important role in preventing and mitigating human rights abuses and violations in connection with one of the world’s biggest sporting events. We urge you to publicly confirm that they will be implemented in full.
Football Supporters Europe (FSE)
Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
Human Rights Watch
International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
UNI Global Union
World Players Association