The decision by UEFA to include new criteria to protect and preserve human rights and tackle corruption in the bidding requirements for the 2024 European Championships is an essential step to preventing abuse and corruption in connection with the event, the Sport and Rights Alliance (SRA) said today.
The finals will be held in either Germany or Turkey, the two countries that submitted their interest by the 3 March deadline. Both national federations must now produce a bid dossier by April 2018. UEFA, European football’s governing body, will choose the winner the following September.
The dossiers must respond to UEFA’s Euro 2024 Tournament Requirements document, which under the chapter ‘Political, Social and Environmental Aspects’ now makes explicit reference to human and child rights, as well as to anti-corruption measures. It follows similar moves by FIFA and the International Olympic Committee over the last six months in incorporating human rights criteria into future bidding documents and statutes.
International governing bodies have responded to sustained lobbying by the SRA and like-minded groups over human rights and corruption violations. These include forced evictions and police brutality during preparations for the 2016 Rio Olympics, labour rights violations of workers involved in the construction of stadiums and infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar, the non-payment of wages at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and concerns over freedom of speech at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
UEFA’s new bidding documentation was developed following close consultation with the SRA. Section 03 of the document reads: “Bidders have the obligation to respect, protect and fulfil human rights and fundamental freedoms, with a duty to respect human, labour and child rights during the Bidding Procedure and, if appointed, until the end of the dismantling of UEFA Euro 2024.
Question 19 calls for bidders to include an anti-corruption strategy and references the framework developed by the UNODC in “A Strategy for Safeguarding against Corruption in Major Public Events”.
The document gives further details of how successful bidders are expected to adhere to the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This includes “culturally embedding human rights”; “proactively addressing human rights risks” and “implementing means of reporting and accountability” by engaging with relevant stakeholders. In both this field and on anti-corruption, when responding bidders are required to provide a clear description of what measures they intend to take to fulfil the required criteria.
It gives examples of how implementation can be measured, including reporting on child labour in supply chains for products and services used during the delivery of the tournament; monitoring labour rights violations during the construction of stadiums; providing evidence of consultation with vulnerable groups affected by preparations for Euro 2024, and a “complaint mechanism” plus effective remedies for any human rights infringements.
Marc Joly, from Terre des Hommes, said: “UEFA is one of the first sport governing bodies to consider human rights criteria right from the start of the lifecycle of an event. This is an important first step and the SRA now hopes that this approach will become standard practice in the delivery of all UEFA events, far in advance of 2024.”
Brendan Schwab, the Executive Director of the World Players Association, said: “The new bid criteria are designed to ensure that the protection of human rights is a material factor in the decision to award the rights to host the championships. This will not only give both bidders the opportunity to comprehensively address potential human rights risks in their bids, but to demonstrate best practice in the advancement of human rights through sport.”
The SRA is a coalition of leading human rights organisations, sports groups and trade unions, including the World Players Association, the world football players’ union FIFPro, Football Supporters Europe, Human Rights Watch, the International Trade Union Confederation, UNI Global Union, Terre des Hommes, Transparency International, Amnesty UK and Amnesty NL. The SRA’s mission is to ensure that sports bodies and mega-sporting events respect human rights, the environment, and anti-corruption requirements in all of their activities and at all stages of the mega sporting events process.