PACE sets out wide-ranging recommendations for putting human rights at heart of football

CoE/Parliamentary Assembly session

Football’s main stakeholders must put human rights values at the heart of the sport, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said in a wide-ranging resolution on football governance.

The adopted text, based on the report prepared by Lord George Foulkes (United Kingdom, SOC), sets out a series of detailed practical recommendations to FIFA, UEFA and other major bodies involved in football to achieve transparency, fairness and solidarity in football financing, including reform of the transfer market; ensure the hosts of major events comply with stringent human rights, social and environmental obligations; protect players, particularly young players, from abuse or exploitation; and promote gender equality and end discrimination in the sport.

“Business must not take precedence over values,” said the parliamentarians, underlining that human rights should always be the main driving force for football’s governing bodies. Among other things, the Assembly said countries must meet basic human rights requirements before being able to host major events such as the World Cup, and any country where women faced “clear discrimination in their access to sport” should simply be disqualified.

Addressing the Assembly during the debate, FIFA President Giovanni Infantino referred notably to human and workers’ rights in Qatar, and underlined that “change doesn’t come quickly, but change is happening”. Thanks to the World Cup and to the spotlight that football brings, he said, Qatar “has evolved in a record time of only a few years” in the fields of work legislation, protection of workers and minimum wage, although “a lot needs to be done”.

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