Sport has the potential to play a transformative, positive role in society, but too often its power is misappropriated and exploited in a way that leads to significant and systematic harm, and the escalating financialisation of sports like football, allied to weak governance structures, makes sport increasingly susceptible to capture by authoritarian states.

Our work on accountability in sport is informed by years of research and advocacy on abuses connected to the Qatar 2022 World Cup, and the role of FIFA. In 2022, as part of a coalition, we pushed for FIFA to create a compensation fund for lives and livelihoods lost in connection with the World Cup. We have also advocated for Abdullah Ibhais, a World Cup whistleblower imprisoned in Qatar after a grossly unfair trial.

We have taken a strong stance against state ownership of football clubs, and explored the political implications of such projects. Our 2023 report Easy Cities to Buy explored the political and media impacts of UAE and Saudi Arabian ownership of clubs in Manchester and Newcastle respectively.

We call for clear and consistent rule-making by governing bodies on how they respond to violations of international law such as Russia’s actions in Ukraine and Israel’s actions in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. We have also called on sports governing bodies to be clear and consistent in their application of anti-discrimination rules, most notably in the case of France’s exclusion of hijab-wearing athletes from the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Migrant workers in Qatar, featured in The Workers Cup film