Friday 16 June 2023, 18:30

FIFA to “expand” human rights and anti-discrimination work “across the global game”, major conference told

  • FIFA to reinforce human rights and anti-discrimination policies through closer MA collaboration

  • FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ part of drive to “promote social change and celebrate diversity”

  • FIFA’s Head of Human Rights & Anti-Discrimination speaking at Fare conference in Lisbon, Portugal

FIFA will work ever more closely with its Member Associations to “promote social change and celebrate diversity”, notably at the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™, FIFA’s Head of Human Rights & Anti-Discrimination has told a major conference.

Attending The Equality and Inclusion in Football Conference 2023 organised by the Fare network in Lisbon, Andreas Graf presented FIFA’s human rights journey, and highlighted the fact that the work undertaken in the past merely provides the foundation for further efforts that will be made hand-in-hand with its 211 members in the future.

FIFA Head of Human Rights & Anti-Discrimination Andreas Graf speaks at the Equality and Inclusion in Football Conference in Lisbon

“We have a strong basis for this work now and will further expand our activities to work more closely with Member Associations to mainstream human rights and anti-discrimination policies across the global game,” he told attendees at the start of the second day of the two-day conference, which covered various themes from tackling antisemitism and online hate speech to intersex and trans inclusion and refugee integration through football.

“We are also working more and more strategically to use the platform of our events to promote social change and celebrate diversity.”

That is already being put into practice ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ with the appointment of a six-member cultural panel to ensure First Nations and Tangata Whenua voices inform cultural engagement initiatives for the tournament.

FIFA also closely collaborated with the World Health Organisation (WHO) on promoting healthy lifestyles and anti-discrimination at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, and the latter will be a central theme of the women’s tournament too.

The recent announcement by the FIFA Foundation to enhance its support of para football around the globe follows in the same vein, and extends a thread that has run through FIFA’s work since – as Mr. Graf highlighted – it became the first sports organisation to integrate a far-reaching human rights commitment into its statutes and put in place a systematic human rights programme.

“Since 2016, FIFA has gradually expanded its human rights programme, through the development and strengthening of policies and regulations, the gradual expansion of the internal team of human rights experts, as well as close collaborations with human rights stakeholders” he explained. “The implementation of extensive human rights due diligence processes in relation to FIFA competitions, including through the development of new bidding requirements since 2017, as well as work to address human rights-related concerns in wider global football are additional key components of FIFA’s work in this field.”

Some of the examples highlighted at the conference, which brought together expert speakers, NGOs, intergovernmental organisations, and football bodies, included the recent announcement of the creation of a task force of player representatives to recommend additional measures to address discrimination in stadiums, the Social Media Moderation Tool to combat online abuse of players, and the work to help evacuate sportspersons at risk from Afghanistan.

The Fare Network has been a close partner in FIFA’s human rights and anti-discrimination work since 2015, in particular, through the implementation of the anti-discrimination monitoring system at FIFA competitions to identify and help address discriminatory incidents in stadia.