FIFA has been dealing with some major controversies regarding the organization’s executive body and its choices for World Cups hosts in recent years. From Sepp Blatter’s corruption to Qatar’s migrant worker crisis, working in public relations for soccer’s governing body isn’t easy right now.
After everything FIFA has had to deal with, another issue it created is beginning to emerge.
As reported by ESPN FC, the organization recently hired Harvard professor John Ruggie to help advise it on what to do about its approach to human rights issues. Ruggie did what he was asked and told FIFA that if it wants to fix the issues that international soccer’s governing body created regarding human rights, it needs to start by taking away World Cups from countries who fail to “end systematic abuses,” like in Qatar.
“Where FIFA is unable to reduce severe human rights impacts by using its leverage, it should consider suspending or terminating the relationship,” Ruggie stated.
It’s also important to note that Ruggie wasn’t just referring to host countries either, but also anything or anyone else involved with FIFA, whether it’s country representatives or sponsors.
“I would like to thank Prof. Ruggie for his work in producing this report, which, together with FIFA’s own analysis and ongoing work, will guide the way forward,” newly appointed FIFA President President Gianni Infantino. “This is an ongoing process and of course challenges remain, but FIFA is committed to playing its part in ensuring respect for human rights and to being a leader among international sports organisations in this important area.”
With reports from Qatar continually emerging regarding the country’s poor treatment of migrant workers, FIFA stated it was driven to protect all human rights policies, thus putting itself and Qatar in a tough situation.
Qatar won the rights to host the 2022 World Cup back in December 2010 when it beat out the United States, South Korea, Japan, and Australia. Since winning, journalists have reported stories of corruption and bribery in regards to the bid. On top of those reports, stories have emerged in regards to the human rights issues in the Middle Eastern nation.
In 2013, The Guardian reported the construction of the 2022 World Cup facilities in Qatar would leave about 4,000 migrant workers dead. This number was derived from the International Trade Union Confederation’s claims that around 12 workers would die each week based on the conditions at the time.
In June of 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported the loss of the tournament could severely impact the country, seeing as it was prepared to spend around $200 billion on the tournament alone.
Perhaps one of the more damaging and informed reports about the migrant worker death crisis came from ESPN and the E:60 team. Jeremy Schaap continues to investigate and report on the story today. It’s an award-winning piece that is continually run on ESPN to show how bad the situation in Qatar truly is.
By hiring a professor to advise them on what to do, FIFA put itself in a hole before Ruggie even released his report. Now that he has and said the governing body should remove the tournament from countries who violate major human rights laws, FIFA has a big decision to make. Does it continue on with its past corruption and allow Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup? Or does it flip the page on its past and remove the tournament from a country that is killing thousands of workers for a tournament its only played in a handful of times?