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FIFA Human Rights Advisory Board

  1. Introduction

  2. Board members

  3. Operating principles

  4. Background

  5. Latest news


In March 2017, FIFA announced the establishment of an independent Human Rights Advisory Board to help strengthen its efforts to ensure respect for human rights. The Board is composed of international experts in human, including labor, rights and anti-corruption issues from the United Nations, trade unions, civil society and business (see the list of Board members below). The Board provides FIFA with advice on all issues that it considers relevant to the implementation of FIFA's human rights responsibilities under Article 3 of the FIFA Statutes (for further background on FIFA and human rights, particularly the independent report by Professor John Ruggie in April 2016, see below).

The Board was established for an initial two-year period on the initiative of FIFA's President and members of the Board are appointed by FIFA's Secretary General. The Board's mandate was renewed for a second two years in January 2019. The Board's updated public Terms of Reference were developed with input from a broad range of stakeholders, including representatives of international organizations, trade unions, civil society and FIFA's commercial sponsors.

The eight members of the Board provide advice on an independent basis and receive no financial or other compensation for their time. At the Board's first meeting on 13-14 March 2017, the members adopted a set of Operating Principles that set out how they intend to conduct their work.

The Board is scheduled to meet in person at least twice a year. The Board produces public reports containing its recommendations to FIFA, and FIFA provides its own updates on how it is addressing previous recommendations from the Board. The latest news and reports from the Board are available on this webpage.

The Board is grateful to the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre for hosting this page about its activities.

Board Members

The members of the Advisory Board appointed for the Board's second two-year term are (in alphabetical order):

  • William Anderson (adidas) 
  • Susan Bissell (Independent Senior Advisor)
  • Rachel Davis (Shift) – Chair of the Board
  • Sylvia Schenk (Transparency International Germany)
  • Theo van Seggelen (FIFPro)
  • Lene Wendland (Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights)
  • Brent Wilton (The Coca-Cola Company)
  • Ambet Yuson (Building and Wood Workers' International)

Bill Anderson is Vice President of Social & Environmental Affairs for adidas; a position he has held for the past 17 years. As a human rights lawyer and environmental management expert he has 35 years' experience in addressing social and environmental issues in Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific regions. Over the past 20 years he has been deeply involved in the development of labor and occupational health & safety compliance programs, sustainable development initiatives, business & human rights due diligence and stakeholder engagement processes. He sits on a number of advisory panels for inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, with a focus on sports, labor and human rights and environmental health and safety.

Rachel Davis is Managing Director and Co-founder of the non-profit organization Shift, the leading center of expertise on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Rachel has over a decade of experience in business and human rights, having served as senior legal advisor to Professor John Ruggie, the former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, in which role she helped to develop the UN Guiding Principles. She led the Shift team that supported Ruggie in developing his independent report on FIFA and the UN Guiding Principles in April 2016. Rachel is also a Senior Program Fellow with the Corporate Responsibility Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School. She is an Australian lawyer by training with extensive international legal experience, including having clerked at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague and at the High Court of Australia, and served in the Australian Attorney-General's Department.

Susan Bissell is an independent senior advisor. Since 1987, her career has focused on the rights, safety and security of children and she is currently serving on a number of Boards, teaching and writing. Susan spent over twenty-five years working in various capacities for UNICEF, and from 2016 until 2018 led the establishment of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children and its associated Fund. From 2009 to 2015, Susan served as Associate Director and Chief of Child Protection for UNICEF. Author of a number of research studies, she has worked with UNICEF in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Italy (at the Innocenti Research Centre in Florence), and New York City. Susan earned a PhD in public health and medical anthropology from the University of Melbourne, Australia. While completing her doctorate, she joined Trudie Styler and the Bangladeshi film team Catherine and Tareque Masud to produce the documentary A Kind of Childhood which has won awards and been screened widely. She holds a BA and MA from the University of Toronto. On behalf of her UNICEF Child Protection colleagues, Susan accepted awards including an honorary professorship at Barnard College/Columbia University, the Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship award from Tufts University, the Flambeau D’or from Panathlon International, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Susan was also honored as the Weissberg Chair in International Studies, at Beloit College.

Sylvia Schenk is a lawyer in Frankfurt on Main, Germany. She worked as a judge at a Labor Court (1979-1989) and as City Councilor in Frankfurt (1989-2001). She has been German Champion running 800m in the Olympics 1972 and served as a volunteer in national and international sport since 1975. From 2001-2004 she was president of German Cycling and from 2000-2005 a member of the Management Committee of the International Cycling Union. From 2006-2014 she was Senior Advisor for Sport at Transparency International and from 2007-2010 she was Chair of Transparency International Germany, now chairing its Working Group on Sport. She is a board member of the German Olympic Academy, an arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Lausanne and member of the INTERPOL Standing Committee on Ethical Matters.

Theo van Seggelen is Secretary General of FIFPro, the world's professional footballer association which represents approximately 75,000 male and female players in more than 60 countries. A former professional footballer himself at Telstar, the Netherlands, he became involved with the local player union, VVCS. He began as a board member in 1980, then was its chairman from 1991 until 2005. In 1992, he was named Secretary General of FIFPro. As FIFPro representative, Theo sits on various committees including the FIFA Human Rights Advisory Board and the UEFA Professional Football Strategy Council. He is a judge for FIFA's Dispute Resolution Chamber and for FIFA TMS, which checks international transfers of minor players.

Lene Wendland is Chief of the Human Rights and Economic and Social Issues Section in the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and heads OHCHR's work on Business and Human Rights. She was part of the team of the former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Business and Human Rights, Professor John Ruggie, and contributed to the drafting of the UN Guiding Principles. Lene leads OHCHR's efforts to support effective implementation of the UN Guiding Principles and directs OHCHR's Corporate Accountability and Remedy Project which aims to enhance accountability and access to remedy in cases of business involvement in human rights abuse. She also oversees the secretariat to the inter-governmental working group drafting a legally binding instrument on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

Brent Wilton is Director of Global Workplace Rights for The Coca-Cola Company. A lawyer by training, Brent has spent the last 30 years representing companies and their representative organizations across a range of labor and human rights issues in countries around the world. Prior to joining Coca-Cola in April of 2015, Brent spent the previous 16 years with the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) representing the interests of business in 150 countries on global labor and social policy matters within the International Labour Organization, across the UN and multilateral system. Brent was engaged from the outset in the stakeholder discussions that led to the creation of the UN Guiding Principles, and with the UN Human Rights Working Group on the follow up to the implementation of the Principles. Brent also served on the Board of the UN Global Compact in his last role as IOE Secretary General and was co-chair of the multistakeholder Labor and Human Rights Working Group.

Ambet Yuson is the General Secretary of the Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI), a global union federation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, representing 12 million construction, cement, wood and forestry workers in 135 countries. Ambet led the BWI Global Campaign on Decent Work in the preparation for the World Cups in South Africa (2010) and Brazil (2014) and the Euro Cup in Ukraine-Poland (2012). He is also the Chair of the Council of Global Unions Working Group on Migration and the Co-Chair of the Workers Group in the General Assembly of Partners (GAP) to the UN-HABITAT program. Ambet has held several posts in BWI, including as Regional Director for the Asia Pacific Region and Educational Director at BWI Geneva HQ. Before joining BWI in 1997, he served in various capacities as organizer and educator for trade unions and civil society organizations in the Philippines to support the struggles of marginalized communities.

Board Operating Principles

At its first meeting on 13-14 March 2017, the Advisory Board adopted by consensus the following set of principles and practices to guide its work and ensure its independence and responsiveness to critical human rights concerns of stakeholders:

  1. In offering guidance to FIFA, the Advisory Board will prioritize feedback and recommendations on issues that have the potential to involve the most severe human rights impacts. It will also provide views and recommendations to support the long-term effectiveness of the human rights policies and approaches within FIFA, and the importance of wider adoption of respect for human rights in each of FIFA's member associations.
  2. The Advisory Board acknowledges the value and importance of the work previously done by Professor John Ruggie and the guidance contained in his 2016 report, '"For the Game. For the World.": FIFA and Human Rights'. The Advisory Board will use the report as an anchor in its deliberations and consideration of FIFA's efforts to embed human rights into its global operations.
  3. The Board values the diversity and breadth of experience of its members, as well as their extensive networks with concerned stakeholder groups, including from international organizations, national governments, business, players, sports organizations and civil society.
  4. Members will share their views and opinions based on their individual expertise and knowledge, rather than their specific stakeholder affiliation.
  5. All members provide their time and expertise on a pro bono basis and none have a paid employment or consulting relationship with FIFA or any other football entity.
  6. To further preserve the independence of the Board, the members who are employed by FIFA corporate sponsors will recuse themselves from any discussions on topics that may touch on matters of commercial importance to their current employers, or issues that relate directly to their companies' operations.
  7. The Board Chair and Deputy Chair will be elected for an initial one-year term from members affiliated to independent or civil society organizations; members from FIFA corporate sponsors have chosen not to be considered for these roles.
  8. The Board is open to and encourages stakeholders? to share relevant information, views and concerns to inform its work, but it will not replace FIFA's own obligations to actively seek stakeholder feedback through formal stakeholder engagement processes, as FIFA further embeds respect for human rights into its organization.
  9. The Advisory Board will not act as a formal grievance channel for FIFA-related complaints. All complaints received by the Advisory Board, or its members, will be passed directly to FIFA's Sustainability and Diversity team for appropriate action. The Advisory Board however will be cognizant of FIFA's handling of complaints and the design and effectiveness of FIFA's grievance mechanisms fall within the scope of the work to be reviewed and commented on by the Advisory Board.
  10. The Advisory Board will liaise closely with the Human Rights Working Group of the FIFA Governance Committee. The Governance Committee is mandated to advise and assist FIFA's Council on, among other matters, human rights in connection with FIFA and its activities.
  11. To ensure that the Advisory Board remains informed and up-to-date on the human rights issues being addressed by FIFA and to gauge its overall progress in embedding human rights policies and practices, the Board has elected to meet remotely on a regular basis, in addition to its in-person meetings in Zurich.
  12. In the interests of transparency and to encourage communication with stakeholders, the non-profit Business and Human Rights Resource Centre has kindly agreed to host a dedicated webpage and post materials on the work of the Advisory Board. This will complement materials posted directly on the FIFA website.

Background on the FIFA Human Rights Advisory Board

FIFA has taken important steps to meet its human rights responsibilities, including, in February 2016, adopting Article 3 of the FIFA Statutes in which FIFA commits to respect all internationally recognized human rights and to strive to promote the protection of those rights.

In December 2015, FIFA asked Professor John Ruggie of Harvard Kennedy School, the author of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, to develop recommendations on what it means for FIFA to embed respect for human rights across its global operations. An independent report by Ruggie, supported by Shift, "'For the Game. For the World.': FIFA and Human Rights", was published in April 2016.

The report contains 25 recommendations for action falling broadly under three areas:

  • "From Constitution to Culture: FIFA needs to translate its commitment to respect human rights, included in its new Statutes, into its daily actions and decisions. This includes:
    • Setting clear expectations for the work of all parts of the administration and equipping and resourcing staff to deliver;
    • Ensuring that these efforts are fully reflected in and supported by decision-making on the part of FIFA’s leadership and governing bodies.
  • From Reactive to Proactive: FIFA needs stronger internal systems to address the increasingly predictable human rights risks associated with its business. This includes:
    • Evaluating the severity of risks to people across both its activities and its relationships;
    • Building and using its leverage to address these risks as determinedly as it does to pursue its commercial interests.
  • From Insular to Accountable: FIFA needs to provide greater transparency in managing human rights risks and improve access to remedy. This includes: 
    • Routinely discussing key issues with external stakeholders, including those whose human rights are at risk, and disclosing its efforts and progress in addressing challenges;
    • Ensuring that access to remedy for human rights harm associated with FIFA is available not only on paper but also in practice.”

FIFA's understanding of its human rights responsibilities and its plans for further action, building on Ruggie's report, are reflected in its October 2016 organizational strategy, "FIFA 2.0: The Vision for the Future", in particular at pages 62-64.

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