2018 July 16

Football and Human Rights: Hope for 2026?

The recent FIFA World Cup and the one coming in four years have been built on the backs of workers denied fundamental labour rights, human rights groups report.  Will the one in 2026 be different?

The recent FIFA World Cup is taking place during the worst human rights crisis in Russia since the Soviet era, Human Rights Watch reports. This includes labour rights abuses against workers on construction sites, including non-payment of wages, unsafe working conditions and even worker deaths.

The next FIFA World Cup will take place in Qatar in 2022.  Human rights monitors report that this World Cup is being built on the backs of 1.6 million migrant workers who may face forced labour, and harmful working and housing conditions.  A new documentary, The Workers Cup, gives voice to workers from Ghana, Kenya, India and Nepal.

Will the 2026 FIFA Wold Cup be different?

FIFA recently announced that the “United” bid by the Canadian Soccer Association, the Mexican Football Association, and the United States Soccer Federation won.  This bid includes a human rights strategy that addresses supply chain labour conditions based on principles Electronics Watch would support. The bid commits to:

  • “Worker-driven social responsibility principles” and “worker centred monitoring.”
  • Requiring “contractor disclosure of all subcontractors and other entities in the supply chain as a condition of contracting.”
  • A “credible, independent monitoring group to conduct oversight and monitoring of all event-associated supply chains.”
  • “Empower(ing) workers to access grievance mechanisms and report issues.”

To exercise leverage in the supply chain the World Cup purchasers would partner with other institutional purchasers when seeking bids on contracts for apparel, electronics, and other goods and collaborate with other buyers to remediate supply chain violations.  Contractors may be asked to provide evidence of effective due diligence, which includes accounting for how its own terms of trade, such as delivery deadlines, duration of contracts, and pricing margins, may adversely affect a supplier’s compliance with labour standards.