Wednesday 06 September 2023, 17:15

FIFA praises human rights engagement with FIFA World Cup 2026 host cities at UN event

  • FIFA Head of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination took part in multi-organisation discussion in Geneva

  • Sixteen cities in three countries will host the 48-team FIFA World Cup 2026™

  • Human rights was incorporated into the FIFA World Cup bidding process in 2017

FIFA has praised the FIFA World Cup 2026™ host cities for their collaboration in ensuring that human rights are respected before, during and after the tournament which is set to take place in June-July 2026. Speaking during an event organised by the Permanent Missions of Greece and France to the United Nations Office and the Other International Organisations, in Geneva, Switzerland, FIFA Head of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Andreas Graf said the constructive engagements with the cities would help set new standards for human rights at major sporting events. “We work very closely with the 16 host cities across the three countries, who have been tremendous in their support around their human rights work in association with the tournament,” he explained. “They've already developed human rights plans as part of the host city bidding and selection process. They're now again engaging with their stakeholders at the city level to update those plans and make sure they're ready ahead of the men's [FIFA] World Cup 2026.”

United Nations Human Rights session in Geneva

Mr Graf explained that since 2017, FIFA has made human rights requirements a core part of the full lifecycle of its events, from the bidding process to the tournament preparation and staging, and its legacy. The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ was the first senior World Cup, men’s or women’s, to be fully staged under the new requirements. The FIFA World Cup 2026™ will be one of the most challenging to organise yet, with a record 48 teams participating in 16 hosts cities - Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Guadalajara, Mexico City, Monterrey, Toronto and Vancouver - across Mexico, the USA and Canada. “This is a collaborative process where there is a division of labour in terms of how events get organised,” he explained to delegates from various governments and organisations in the room, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, and the UN Human Rights Office.

United Nations Human Rights session in Geneva - group photo

“The host country and hosts cities provide an environment where the event takes place, and then the sport's governing body together with the local organising entity come in and organise the event within that environment. So there are a number of responsibilities and duties on the host states and host authorities to deliver that are crucial from a human rights perspective.” Andreas Graf stressed the importance of close collaborations between FIFA as the tournament organiser and host authorities to provide a safe and inclusive environment for both spectators and the communities where the event takes place, and to ensure respect for labour rights for workers involved in tournament preparation and delivery.