Launched today by world football’s governing body, the board has been established following the recommendations of an independent report published in April 2016 by Harvard professor John Ruggie. It will comprise eight international experts ranging from the United Nations and civil society to trade unions and businesses. FIFA commissioned Ruggie and his team to provide the report after being criticised for its approach to human rights, for example with regards to the treatment of migrant workers during preparations for the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.
In its role as an international network which develops projects to improve the living conditions of disadvantaged children and promote their rights, Terre des Hommes will provide essential expertise to FIFA in the field of child protection on an independent and non-paid basis. Its ‘Children Win’ campaign focuses on the impact of Mega Sporting Events (MSEs) on young people and their families, and has been lobbying – and more recently working alongside – FIFA, UEFA and the IOC on the impact and legacy of major events.
Ignacio Packer, Secretary General of Terre des Hommes, will sit on the board, which will meet twice a year, beginning on March 13 th , and publish its recommendations to FIFA after each meeting.
He said: “We welcome that FIFA is taking important steps towards embedding human rights considerations within MSE bidding and selection processes. In joining the human rights advisory board, Terre des Hommes will provide, in an independent way, its expertise for human rights and specifically child rights to be addressed across FIFA’s operations. However Terre des Hommes will remain vigilant on how effective this new mechanism will be, and on how human and child rights due diligence is rolled out within FIFA.”
The current members of the board, selected on the basis of their expertise in human rights-related matters, are (in alphabetical order):
- William Anderson (adidas)
- Rachel Davis (Shift)
- Ignacio Packer (Terre des Hommes)
- Sylvia Schenk (Transparency International Germany)
- Theo van Seggelen (FIFPro)
- Lene Wendland (Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights)
- Brent Wilton (Coca-Cola)
- Ambet Yuson (Building and Wood Workers’ International)
FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said: “The work of this advisory board is another important step as we strengthen our efforts to deliver on our human rights commitments. We are very glad to have such a prominent panel of experts who will support us with their expertise and challenge us where they believe we need to improve. It is the first advisory board of its kind for any sports federation, and we look forward to the pioneering work we will jointly undertake.”
Ruggie and his team were tasked with defining what it means for FIFA to “embed respect for human rights across its global operations”. After the report was published, its author concluded that while FIFA is neither “solely responsible” nor the “primary cause” of the issues, the governing body “must use its influence to address these human rights risks as determinedly as it does to pursue its commercial interests.” Ruggie added: “What is required is a cultural shift that must affect everything FIFA does and how it does it.”