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Fifa criticized by human rights organisations for letting China host Club World Cup

“Fifa under fire after announcing China will host 24-team Club World Cup”, 24 October 2019

Human rights organisations have condemned Fifa’s decision to stage a revamped version of the Club World Cup in China.

World football’s governing body has confirmed that an expanded version of its showpiece event, featuring 24 teams, will take place there in June and July 2021. The decision was made despite China’s suppression of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, and the internment of more than one million Uighur Muslims in the state of Xinjiang.

 “This is a historic decision for football because the Fifa council decided unanimously to appoint China as the host for the new Fifa World Cup for clubs,” said Fifa’s president, Gianni Infantino, in announcing the decision…

Fifa was immediately criticised for the move, with Amnesty International UK’s head of policy and government affairs, Allan Hogarth, saying: “China being chosen to host the Fifa Club World Cup in 2021 presents Beijing with yet another opportunity to try to ‘sportswash’ its tarnished international reputation.

“It’s likely the Chinese authorities will see the competition as an opportunity to project an image of openness and toleration, whereas the much darker reality in the country is one of pervasive censorship, relentless round-ups of dissidents, and the shocking mass detention of Uighurs in Xinjiang.

“China has an atrocious human rights record and Fifa must use its considerable influence to push for human rights improvements in the country.

“Any club involved in a China-hosted Club World Cup – from players through to coaches and backroom staff – should be ready to speak out on human rights issues in China.”

The revamped cup came in for heavy criticism even before… announcement. The European Club Association, a body representing the continent’s biggest clubs, has threatened to boycott the expanded even event. In a letter written to Uefa in March, 15 of the ECA’s clubs wrote that they were “firmly against any approval of a revised Club World Cup at this point in time and confirm that no ECA clubs would take part to such a competition”…