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7 Nov 2023

Civil society raise human rights concerns over 2030 & 2034 World Cup bids & process; FIFA responds

In October 2023, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited FIFA to respond to civil society concerns over the process and awarding of the 2030 and 2034 men’s World Cups. The 2030 World Cup was awarded to a joint bid from Morocco, Portugal and Spain. As of 1 November, Saudi Arabia had entered the only bid for the 2034 World Cup prompting concerns that the Gulf state's poor human rights record including well-documented abuse of migrant workers, repression of LGBT+ rights and women's rights were incompatible with FIFA's human rights responsibilities and own commitments. FIFA's full response can be read below.

“FIFA’s failure in 2010 to insist on human rights protections when it awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar is a major reason why serious reforms were so delayed, and so often weakly implemented and enforced. FIFA is now required under its own human rights rules to take these lessons seriously and take firm action. It would be a first step to salvage the already tarnished reputations of 2030 and 2034 World Cups with supporters.
Ronan Evain, Executive Director of Football Supporters Europe

Human Rights Watch alleges FIFA has “broken its own human rights rules in announcing a plan for hosting the next two men’s World Cups that effectively eliminates bidding and human rights due diligence”. HRW also says FIFA has not yet provided response to correspondence requesting, among other aspects, information on the human rights due diligence process prior to the awarding of the 2030 World Cup, and asks for information on the due diligence and stakeholder consultations for both 2030 and 2034 World Cups.

Given the enormous scale of the World Cup, there are far-reaching human rights risks to consider with all bids to host this tournament—as well as opportunities for change that should not be missed. FIFA’s human rights policy must not be reduced to a paper exercise when it comes to choosing the host of the world’s most watched sporting event.
Minky Worden, Director of Global Initiatives at Human Rights Watch

Additionally, the Sport & Rights Alliance has called on FIFA to secure “clear and binding commitments” from bidders for the 2030 and 2034 World Cup tournaments to protect workers’ rights, ensure freedom of expression and prevent discrimination. Other organisations, including Fare and Athlete Ally among others, have also raised similar concerns.

With only a single bid for each tournament on the table, FIFA may have scored an own goal. FIFA must now make clear how it expects hosts to comply with its human rights policies. It must also be prepared to halt the bidding process if serious human rights risks are not credibly addressed.
Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Head of Economic and Social Justice