While all the attention is on the change of presidency at the head of FIFA, it is the set of reforms of the Statutes that give the framework of the urgently needed changes. The decisions adopted by the FIFA Extraordinary Congress go far beyond the election of an individual to lead. They form the basis for any credible change and sustainable reforms.
It is indeed remarkable that human rights are entering the newly drafted FIFA Statutes approved this Friday by the FIFA Extraordinary Congress.
“From ‘this has nothing to do with us’, FIFA is finally acknowledging human rights. It took a very long time. It’s a positive sign, but still not the moment to rejoice. There is a very long road ahead of us and for FIFA to walk the talk”, says Ignacio Packer of Terre des Hommes. He recalls statements made by FIFA top officials before the 2014 Brazil FIFA World Cup refuting any responsibility beyond the field of play.
FIFA Statutes mainly dealt with rights regarding membership, voting, financial issues, broadcasting, marketing, copyright law, competitions and events for many decades. Human rights are now recognized under a quite ‘timid’ statement: “FIFA is committed to respecting all internationally recognized human rights and shall strive to promote the protection of these rights.” At least it’s a paragraph by itself of the ‘General Provisions’ followed by the already existing subchapter on non-discrimination.
It needs to be proved that business will not be counting more than people anymore.
Today, in approving the full slate of proposed reforms enshrined in the new draft FIFA Statutes , FIFA’s member associations are nevertheless making commitments for the respect of human rights with regard the implementation of future FIFA events and tournaments.
FIFA still has to demonstrate its seriousness about dealing with human rights abuses and corruption linked to the World Cups. Neither Infantino, the newly elected FIFA president, nor did any of the other presidential candidates sign up to the full range of pledges concerning human rights. These pledges were presented to all the candidates by a group of leading NGOs ahead of the election Friday. None of them was even disposed to clearly articulate alternative measures that would effectively address the underlying issues.
NGOs including Terre des Hommes, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Football Supporters Europe and Transparency International Germany asked the five candidates to commit to taking six clear steps in their first 100 days as FIFA president. These steps would put FIFA on the road to ensure that the World Cups and other tournaments do not cause or contribute to human rights abuses and corruption.
It is now up to the new president to make rapid progress under this framework.
In order to articulate with one voice key labour rights and other human rights as well as anti-corruption recommendations, a broad coalition of organizations and experts have defined key steps which they recommend FIFA to take. Steps that ensure that future events respect and promote universal human rights, protect the rights of workers, and contribute to transparency and good governance.
“This coalition is now waiting for FIFA to organize a consultation in the coming weeks including civil society organizations to walk the talk. The aim is to rapidly advance human rights. Terre des Hommes will be there to offer its determination and expertise on child rights”, says Ignacio Packer.