The Harvard professor behind an independent report on FIFA’s human-rights policies has presented a set of 25 recommendations to world football’s governing body.
FIFA has come in for sustained criticism over its approach to human-rights issues, with reported conditions for migrant labourers working on stadia for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar coming in for particular scrutiny.
In the report, entitled: “For the Game. For the World.” Professor John Ruggie praised FIFA for making positive steps in the area by commissioning his work, but urged it to put words into practice at forthcoming tournaments and during future bidding processes.
“The foundational challenge for FIFA now is to go beyond putting words on paper and adding new administrative functions. What is required is a cultural shift that must affect everything FIFA does and how it does it,” Ruggie wrote.
Ruggie cited the furore over Qatar 2022 as a reason behind his report being commissioned, stating: “FIFA has been beset by allegations about human-rights abuses in connection with its events and relationships.”
The professor sees his work as a companion piece of sorts to the recommendations of former International Olympic Committee (IOC) director general Francois Carrard and the 2016 FIFA Reform Committee but focusing on “outward-looking governance” as opposed to “internal governance”.
Ruggie believes human-rights issues need to be viewed as a central factor by tournament organising committees and within bids for the 2026 World Cup and beyond.
“FIFA should set explicit human-rights requirements of Local Organising Committees in bidding documents for tournaments and provide guidance on them,” he said.
Another recommendation read: “FIFA should include human rights within its criteria for evaluating bids to host tournaments and should make them a substantive factor in host selection.”
In a statement welcoming Ruggie’s work, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said: “FIFA is fully committed to respecting human rights. I would like to thank Professor Ruggie for his work in producing this report, which, together with FIFA’s own analysis and ongoing work, will guide the way forward.
“This is an ongoing process and of course challenges remain, but 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.”