Trio of European legal eagles urge FIFA to set up Saudi monitoring group ahead of 2034

May 23 – FIFA have been urged by a group of international lawyers to properly scrutinise Saudi Arabia’s human rights record before allowing the kingdom to host the 2034 World Cup.

According to The Associated Press, a 22-page document was delivered to FIFA headquarters in Zurich on behalf of Mark Pieth – the Swiss governance expert originally brought in by FIFA itself to oversee its reform process – compatriot Stefan Wehrenberg  and British barrister Rodney Dixon.

Their paper calls on FIFA to use its leverage with Saudi Arabia to comply with international human rights standards that football’s world governing body itself requires of tournament hosts.

“It is obvious that Saudi Arabia falls very far short of those requirements,” the document states. “Given this, as matters currently stand, FIFA simply cannot properly permit it to host the 2034 World Cup.”

Saudi Arabia is the only candidate to host the 2034 World Cup in a highly controversial fast-track process FIFA opened last October. The Saudi bid must be formally submitted by July and is set to be rubber-stamped on December 11 by FIFA’s 211 member federations as a mere formality.

Pieth worked with FIFA a decade ago as chairman of its Independent Governance Committee but his  advice was largely ignored. The three lawyers say their submission to FIFA was written “on behalf of persons who are suffering from serious violations of their basic human rights and freedoms by Saudi Arabia.”

“The authors of this submission are ready to engage constructively with FIFA to ensure that these minimum requirements, at least, are achieved,” they added.

Pieth told The AP any FIFA-backed monitoring group of Saudi Arabia must have “real, credible experts and independence.”

The paper to FIFA said it should include “expert members from victims groups, NGOs, UN agencies, international unions and civil society organisations.”

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