PACE report says No to ESL, No to Biennial World Cup and tells game to put human rights first

December 6 – With FIFA’s December 20 global summit to discuss the biennial World Cup proposal creeping closer by the day, another European parliamentary body has issued a football governance report that slams the plan as well as coming out unequivocally against the lingering European Super League proposition.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will vote in January on a report prepared by Lord George Foulkes (UK) for the Assembly’s Culture Committee.

In a report that tells football it needs to put human rights – rather than the top echelon of the game’s seemingly insatiable greed – at the centre of its purpose, it says that FIFA’s plan for a World Cup every two years could have “disastrous consequences for world football.”

The report urges FIFA not to proceed without the agreement of European stakeholders and the IOC.

On the issues surrounding the European Super League, the report is similarly forthright. While it recognises that financial disparities between clubs and leagues are inevitable it says that it is “concerned about football’s polarisation and increasing disparities, as well as some blatant financial excesses”, and says there needs to be greater solidarity within the game.

The report says: “It believes that the principle of open competitions must be preserved, considers that UEFA should remain the entity responsible for the organisation of the European club competitions and firmly opposes the European Super League project.”

In a wide ranging set of recommendations to football’s governing bodies the report says football needs 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;

* promote gender equality and end discrimination in the sport.

The report also calls for more money and resources to create a safer environment for children and teenagers playing football, and to tackle sexual abuse. The recommendation being to create a ‘Safe Sport’ agency that would be a multi-sport, inter-institutional and intergovernmental body and would deal with cases of abuse in sport.

“Business must not take precedence over values” say the parliamentarians, who also recommend that countries must meet basic human rights requirements before being able to host major events such as the World Cup, and any country where women face “clear discrimination in their access to sport” should be disqualified.

The report also recommends national associations should promote equal pay and rewards for national team players of any gender.

It is not all bad news for FIFA. The report recognises that “FIFA should have the right to regulate the global transfer system, as well as agents and intermediaries, and should find a balanced agreement to cap agent transfer fees”.

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