FIFA under pressure over 2034 World Cup human rights risks

A new Amnesty International report, produced with FairSquare support, and an international labour union complaint against Saudi Arabia, have this week piled the pressure on football’s governing body FIFA.

FairSquare provided research support for Playing a Dangerous Game?, published by Amnesty International today. The report assesses the human rights risks related to upcoming men’s World Cup bids – a joint offer from Morocco, Spain and Portugal with additional games to be played in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay for the 2030 World Cup finals – and another from Saudi Arabia to host the 2034 tournament. Detailed bid offers, including human rights strategies, are expected to be submitted to FIFA for evaluation within weeks, with the governing body due to confirm the hosts in December.

The report finds that the human rights issues associated with the joint 2030 World Cup bid are significant and must be addressed, but the risks associated with the 2034 FIFA World Cup bid by Saudi Arabia – including those faced by workers, fans and journalists – are of an entirely different magnitude and severity.

FIFA’s failures on human rights have been highlighted in the awarding of previous World Cups, most notably in relation to the abuse of workers who constructed the stadiums and infrastructure for the 2022 finals in Qatar.

Also this week, the international trade union Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) submitted two formal complaints with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) – a UN agency – against Saudi Arabia for severe human rights abuses and wage theft involving at least 21,000 construction workers.

FairSquare fully supports and endorses BWI’s complaint, alongside other civil society organisations concerned with workers rights in the country, where trade unions are banned and international labour standards are blatantly disregarded.

BWI said on submission of the complaint that, “as Saudi Arabia positions itself to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup, this complaint demands immediate attention from FIFA and the international community… FIFA must ensure that Saudi Arabia addresses grave labour rights abuses and aligns its labour laws and practices with international standards before any further consideration of its World Cup bid.”