November 28 – A leading human rights organisation has denounced FIFA for awarding its inaugural expanded Club World Cup to China, saying football’s world governing body has totally ignored “serious human rights violations” in the country and is guilty of double standards by disregarding its own much-trumpeted policy.
In a letter to Joyce Cook, FIFA’s Chief Social Responsibility and Education Officer, Human Rights Watch questions why FIFA made its choice for the 24-team tournament in 2021 without bothering to put in place a proper bid process, as happens with other major competitions, or consult with human rights bodies.
“As Human Rights Watch has documented, serious human rights violations are currently taking place in China,” the letter said.
“We were surprised to learn this decision was brought to the FIFA Council without the required transparent bidding process or any structured investigation or consideration of the major human rights risks to athletes, fans, workers, journalists and others.”
“FIFA should not set up a double standard where some countries are exempt from the human rights rules.”
In a media statement accompanying release of its correspondence, Minky Worden, global initiatives director at Human Rights Watch, commented: “FIFA flouted its own human rights commitments by granting hosting rights to China for the Club World Cup. FIFA is sending the message that the rules that apply to other governments don’t apply to Beijing.”
In its response, FIFA admitted it had simply held “an informal evaluation process in discussions with a number of potential host member associations before proposing the Chinese Football Association to the FIFA Council at its meeting in Shanghai.”
But it insisted it took human rights seriously and would keep an eye on how China was behaving in this regard.
“Please be assured of FIFA’s ongoing commitment to upholding human rights with the intergration of far-reaching human rights requirements in the bidding and hosting of FIFA tournaments and as has been the case since November 2017,” said Cook’s reply.
“These requirements extend to the host member association and include guarantees and commitments by the host country authorities to respect human rights in their activities associated with the tournament in accordance with internationally recognised human rights standards and FIFA’s own Human Rights Policy.
“FIFA will now work with the Chinese Football Association and the country’s authorities to ensure that these human rights commitments are implemented throughout the planning and hosting of the FIFA Club World Cup 2021.”
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