Beyond the pitch
Human rights partnerships agreed with 2023 host countries
In July, FIFA announced a collaboration agreement with the Australian Human Rights Commission and the New Zealand Human Rights Commission ahead of the next FIFA Women’s World Cup, set to be held in Australia and New Zealand in 2023.
In a report published in December, the two national human rights commissions and FIFA identified the human rights risks and opportunities associated with the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 and made recommendations for prevention and responses.
The report focused on the appropriate treatment of workers and volunteers as well as the inclusion, safety and well-being of players, workers and spectators. As part of the collaborative process, the two commissions will build on the extensive work conducted during the bidding phase for the tournament, including the human rights context assessment prepared by Griffith University.
“Alongside ongoing FIFA programmes and initiatives in this area, including extensive work in safeguarding and child protection, this assessment is an important first step with host countries and builds on the human rights requirements already included within the bidding process.”
Special attention was also given to the topic of safeguarding those who may be at particular risk, such as children and young people, women, indigenous communities, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, disabled people and persons identifying as LGBTQI+.
Joyce Cook, FIFA’s Chief Social Responsibility & Education Officer, said: “In line with FIFA’s continued commitment to protecting human rights and positively impacting society through football, we welcome this assessment from the Australian Human Rights Commission and New Zealand Human Rights Commission and the recommendations made for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.
Alongside ongoing FIFA programmes and initiatives in this area, including extensive work in safeguarding and child protection, this assessment is an important first step with host countries and builds on the human rights requirements already included within the bidding process.”
Sport for mental health and social cohesion programme launched
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, FIFA, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) launched the Sport for Mental Health and Social Cohesion (SMHSC) programme.
Through the SMHSC programme, the AFD, FIFA and the GIZ joined forces to tackle the negative social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in selected countries in Africa (Còte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda), Asia (Indonesia, Pakistan, India), Latin America (Colombia, Ecuador), the Middle East (Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq) and the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Serbia).
Funding initiatives between EUR 10,000 and EUR 30,000, the projects targeted vulnerable groups (children and young people, girls and women, and refugees, among others) particularly affected by the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Focusing on mental health, well-being and social cohesion, the projects were set to be deployed for a maximum duration of six months starting in January 2022.
FIFA launches pioneering programme for ex-players
A group of FIFA Legends got together in 2021 to announce the beginning of a new project, The Next 90, aimed at providing ex-professional footballers with the skills, tools and confidence needed to succeed in a career beyond football when their playing days are over.
The Next 90 was established to empower former players to take charge of their own destiny, as they begin the next chapter of their professional lives and seek leadership roles away from the pitch.
“It will provide them with all of the necessary tools to design a second career on their own terms, whether it be related to our game or otherwise.”
The programme is especially suited to natural-born leaders and former players who are keen to transfer their on-pitch achievements to a second career, be it in football or any other field. The Next 90 began with the launch of an innovative educational programme organised by FIFA Legends and FIFA’s partner, CIES. The process for former players to apply was launched on 2 November 2021, and the course was due to run from January to December 2022. All tuition costs and fees are covered by FIFA.
At the launch, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “It is with great pride that I present The Next 90, a tailor-made FIFA project that is designed to assist former players to take the next step in their post-playing career. It will provide them with all of the necessary tools to design a second career on their own terms, whether it be related to our game or otherwise.”
Accessibility and inclusiveness celebrated
On 3 December 2021, to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, FIFA proudly celebrated the disabled footballers, officials and fans that form a key part of the rich diversity of the football family.
FIFA marked the day with a first. Having seen that many member associations had well-established para-football programmes, including the creation of para-football leagues, FIFA was aware that there was still a need to do more from an international perspective. FIFA’s role is to grow football across the globe, but in many parts of the world, the opportunities for disabled people to play para-football are limited or even non-existent. In order to address this, FIFA created an expert working group of para-footballers involving para-football legends and FIFA member associations with established disability football programmes. The working group, which met for the first time on 3 December, was tasked with helping FIFA and its member associations to develop para-football worldwide.
“It’s important that we show that football isn’t just about the elite competitions that we see on TV, but that there are all manner of other forms of football, including disability football, that are played, organised and enjoyed by some of the most passionate people in the world.”
The working group will develop concrete guidance measures for FIFA member associations. Their efforts will be supported by the creation of a para-football mentoring programme in which the experience gained by member associations, para-football legends and international, para-football, non-governmental organisations will be put to good use to help to grow and maintain para-football teams, leagues and other events across the world.
FIFA’s Chief Social Responsibility & Education Officer Joyce Cook said: “It’s important that we show that football isn’t just about the elite competitions that we see on TV, but that there are all manner of other forms of football, including disability football, that are played, organised and enjoyed by some of the most passionate people in the world. They are all worthy of our support, and I am proud of the work that FIFA is undertaking to ensure that this is increasingly the case.”
FIFA and CoE mark anniversary
October 2021 marked the three-year anniversary of the signing of a special memorandum of understanding (MoU) between FIFA and the Council of Europe (CoE).
Focusing on several areas of cooperation, including the promotion of human rights and good governance throughout football, the partnership has since evolved to support FIFA’s tireless work in ensuring transparency and integrity in the sport.
During this period, the two organisations have successfully worked together to further develop and implement the FIFA Global Integrity Programme to tackle areas such as corruption and match manipulation. This underlined the work carried out in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), another organisation with which FIFAhas fostered important relations.
Significant progress has also been made in the area of child protection. Launched in 2019, the FIFA Guardians programme was developed with the support of an expert working group, including representatives from the CoE.
Improving safety and security at matches has also formed a key part of the working agenda. FIFA has spent months coordinating with and supporting the CoE’s technical cooperation project with Qatar, ahead of the FIFA World Cup in that country, which kicks off on 18 November 2022.
FIFA and HCHF unite
Secretary-General of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity (HCHF) Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam and FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura met in May 2021 to discuss football’s power to promote unity.
The meeting, which took place at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich, focused on the work of both organisations and allowed the participants, who included FIFA’s Chief Social Responsibility & Education Officer Joyce Cook, to explore opportunities for collaboration and complimentary initiatives aimed at strengthening peace and unity on a global level.
Speaking about the meeting, Judge Abdelsalam said: “I firmly believe in the power of football to create solidarity and unity among all people and FIFA plays an important role in reinforcing humanitarian values throughout the world." In addition, he stressed his happiness about FIFA’s commitment to this topic, which is very much in line with the goals of the HCHF.
“FIFA knows that football has a unique power that can bring people together and foster greater unity. We are committed to using the power of football and the platform it provides to bring about positive change in people’s lives.”
Landmark agreement between FIFA and CARICOM
In May 2021, FIFA and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) signed an MoU to strengthen their collaboration, with the aim of promoting sports integrity and social responsibility while furthering the development of football in the region.
The MoU focused on several key areas of collaboration, in particular the implementation of a football programme in the physical education curricula in primary schools in the CARICOM region. FIFA, together with its member associations, will provide support for the development of football training, competitions and the training of football coaches, officials and administrators along with physical education teachers.
The agreement was signed by CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque and FIFA President Gianni Infantino at a virtual ceremony attended by the presidents of the national football associations of CARICOM countries, government ministers, representatives and delegates, as well as Concacaf President Victor Montagliani.
“We are delighted to enter into this agreement with the Caribbean Community, the aim of which is to leverage our sport as a catalyst for social development in the region. Football has an incredible following in the Caribbean and there is still great potential for additional growth. I am very happy to see that the countries understand the opportunities this brings in terms of social benefits for their communities and we are looking forward to working hand in hand with them around this common goal.”
Major new global education programme launched
In January 2021, FIFA launched the FIFA Guardians Safeguarding in Sport Diploma – a major new global education programme designed to strengthen and professionalise safeguarding standards across football.
Developed by FIFA and The Open University (OU) together with global safeguarding experts, practitioners and academics in the field, the FIFA Guardians Safeguarding in Sport Diploma is a complete open learning experience that will be available in English, French and Spanish. The two-year programme consists of five online courses primarily aimed at safeguarding officers at FIFA’s 211 member associations.
In line with FIFA’s long-term commitment to professionalise and embed child and adult safeguarding standards across the game, the launch of the diploma was a landmark step in sport and has provided member associations with a dedicated, interactive educational resource to develop safeguarding best practice.