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FIFA must ensure human rights are key factor in 2030 World Cup hosting decision

A mural in Doha ahead of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup © GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images

New global opinion poll shows majority of public (53%) believe human rights should be a key consideration in hosting decisions, with even more - 60% - of those in UK taking this view

Sport & Rights Alliance concerned that human rights could be sidelined when deciding hosts for 2030 men’s football World Cup

‘FIFA must rigorously apply the highest human rights standards in evaluating all bids to host its flagship tournament’ - Steve Cockburn

A global coalition of human rights groups, trade unions, players and fans is urging FIFA to ensure that human rights are a primary consideration when deciding which countries should host the 2030 men’s football World Cup.

With the bidding process expected to begin soon, the Sport & Rights Alliance is asking FIFA to ensure the bid evaluation process reflects the results of a global opinion poll commissioned by Amnesty which shows that a majority of the public (53%) believe human rights should be a vital consideration in deciding who hosts major international sporting events. 

FIFA introduced human rights criteria for the first time in bidding for the 2026 World Cup following controversies around the process in awarding the 2018 and 2022 tournaments to Russia and Qatar, and there are concerns that human rights could be sidelined or ignored in FIFA’s choice of the 2030 hosts. 

Despite the introduction in 2017 of a human rights policy and bidding criteria, FIFA has since failed to carry out appropriate human rights risk assessments when awarding other tournaments. For example, in recent years the Club World Cup has been granted to China, the UAE, Morocco and Saudi Arabia without a transparent process or consultation with civil society. There were also widespread violations of human rights in relation to the World Cup in Qatar, despite FIFA having developed a “sustainability strategy” - which included human rights commitments - in 2020. Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers remain without compensation for abuses they suffered in preparing and delivering last year’s tournament. 

The call on FIFA comes as Amnesty publishes the results of a YouGov opinion poll showing that a majority of people (53%) in 15 countries believe that human rights - including workers’ rights, press freedom and non-discrimination - should be a key consideration when selecting the host of a major sporting event. The poll showed that, after safety and security (57%), human rights was the most commonly-chosen consideration for determining tournament hosts. This was the top consideration in seven of the countries surveyed, and highest in Switzerland (68%), where FIFA is based. More than four times as many people chose human rights as a key factor over “commercial revenues for sports bodies” (13%) (see poll details below). 

In the UK, 60% of poll respondents said they thought human rights should be a key determining factor, second only to “safety and security of fans, athletes and volunteers” (66%).

The decision on the hosts for the 2030 World Cup is likely to be made in a vote of all football associations at the annual FIFA Congress next year, with several joint bids expected, including one from Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Ukraine, and another from Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. Saudi Arabia is reportedly preparing a joint bid either for 2030 or 2034 with Greece, and Egypt has been raised as a possible partner.

Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Head of Economic and Social Justice, said:

“It is clear that the public wants human rights to be a high priority so that the World Cup is a celebration of the game they love and never provides a platform for exploitation, repression or discrimination.

“FIFA must rigorously apply the highest human rights standards in evaluating all bids to host its flagship tournament, demand clear human rights action plans, and reject any bid that fails to credibly show how serious human rights risks would be prevented, independently monitored and remedied if abuses occur.”

Andrea Florence, Sport & Rights Alliance Director, said:

“Since 2017, FIFA has made important progress in recognising its human rights responsibilities. But human rights assessments and considerations have not been applied systematically when awarding FIFA tournaments.

“To demonstrate they are serious about their own policies and statutes, it is critical that FIFA puts human rights front and centre when choosing the host for the 2030 mens World Cup.”

Ronan Evain, Football Supporters Europe Executive Director, said:

“The results of the poll clearly show the importance fans place on human rights in determining the hosts of major sports events - far more than politics or profit.

“We, football supporters, want binding guarantees not only that their own rights will be respected, but also that workers will be assured of decent conditions, journalists will be able to report freely, and human rights activists can speak out without fear.”  

Poll results

Respondents to the poll - nearly 17,500 adults in 15 countries - were asked to select from a list of ten factors they believed should be “key considerations” when selecting the host of an international sporting event, such as the FIFA men’s World Cup or the Olympic Games. The results were: 

-Safety and security of fans, athletes and volunteers: 57%

-Human rights including workers’ rights, press freedom and non-discrimination: 53%

-Quality of infrastructure such as stadiums, transport and hotels 48%

-Transparency and measures to tackle corruption: 43%

-Environmental sustainability and climate change: 37%

-Potential economic benefits for the host country: 28%

-Cultural and tourism opportunities for visiting fans: 28%

-Experience of successfully hosting major sporting events: 25%

-Sporting legacy for the host country such as the development of domestic sport: 24%

-Potential commercial revenue for the sports body such as FIFA or the International Olympic Committee: 13%

-Don’t know: 12%

-None of these: 4%

The poll’s total sample size was 17,477 adults, with the survey - undertaken online - carried out in Argentina, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the USA between 16 August - 6 September 2022. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all surveyed countries’ adults. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Those polled could select multiple options. 

FIFA’s human rights policies

FIFA’s statutes (article 3) and human rights policy (articles 7 and 10) require the global football governing body to “respect” and “strive to promote” human rights, identify and address any adverse human rights impacts of its operations, and to constructively engage with relevant authorities and other stakeholders in its efforts to uphold these responsibilities. In its human rights policy, FIFA also commits to respecting human rights in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. According to the guiding principles, all companies should conduct human rights due diligence in relation to all aspects of its operations. If serious human rights risks cannot or will not be prevented, the company should take the necessary steps to cease or prevent its impact.  

Sport & Rights Alliance

Members of the Sport & Rights Alliance include Amnesty International; Committee to Protect Journalists; Football Supporters Europe; Human Rights Watch; International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association; International Trade Union Confederation; The Army of Survivors; Transparency International and World Players Association.


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