Today marks the three-year anniversary of the signing of a special Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between FIFA and the Council of Europe. Focused on several main areas of cooperation, involving among others, the promotion of human rights, and good governance throughout football, the partnership has since evolved to support FIFA’s tireless work in ensuring transparency and integrity in the sport.
FIFA.com takes a look back at some of the partnership’s highlights, as its objectives in developing robust systems and increasing the capacity to tackle some of the biggest challenges to sports integrity, were established.
In 2019, the Council of Europe’s Group of Copenhagen, a network of national platforms, emerged as a key player in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Integrity Task Force, monitoring any suspicious activity which could potentially affect the integrity of the tournament.
The Council of Europe and Group of Copenhagen then stepped in as to contribute toward editions of FIFA’s Global Integrity Programme, which has worked to better equip member associations around the world, to fight corruption and match-manipulation more effectively. This underlined the work carried out in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), another organisation with which FIFA has fostered important relations.
On the subject of tackling crime in sport, FIFA offered valuable input into the Council of Europe’s Keep Crime out of Sport (KCOOS+) programme, as well as the Global Football Alert Analysis Workshop pilot project. The latter, a multi-stakeholder initiative benefitted from a wide range of expert contributions and encouraged knowledge sharing across a number of particular issues linked to match manipulation.
The Football Local Alerts Global Strategy (FLAGS) initiative – also actively supported by FIFA - builds upon the foundations laid by the Group of Copenhagen’s Global Football Alert Analysis Workshop pilot project, designed to alert stakeholders to any attempts at match manipulation. Having identified matches of concern, FLAGS also analyses past alerts and monitors teams for eight-month periods.
Everyone in football has the right to protection from harassment, abuse and exploitation – be it physical, emotional, sexual, neglect or bullying. To this end, and to protect children and vulnerable adults involved in football, the FIFA Guardians programme was launched in July 2019. This programme includes a toolkit providing guidance and technical support to FIFAs 211 member associations and enabling them to review and embed safeguarding preventative measures across the game. The FIFA Guardians programme was developed with the support of an expert working group, including representatives from the Council of Europe, while the FIFA Guardians Safeguarding in Sport Diploma launched earlier this year and developed together with the Open University and safeguarding experts aims to professionalise the role of the safeguarding officer in football with more than 2000 registered users already undertaking this educational programme globally.
FIFA also joined the ‘Start to talk’ initiative , a call for action to public authorities, and the sport movement, to stop child sexual abuse.
Meanwhile, more is yet to come. FIFA is committed to launching the International Safe Sport Entity, a multi-sports, multi-government and multi-agency initiative, and it is envisaged this will be established in early 2022.
With the biggest football tournament event in the world just over a year away, FIFA has spent months coordinating with and supporting Council of Europe’s technical co-operation project with Qatar. Ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, this project supports the full alignment of the host country’s policies and practices, to ensure they meet the Council of Europe standards in the fields of safety, security and service at football matches.
Looking ahead, FIFA and the Council of Europe have several key areas of collaboration to further engage within, including within the formal structures of Council of Europe sport conventions. These include as a welcome observer to the two Committees on safety and security, specifically the Standing Committee on Spectator Violence and Committee of the Saint-Denis Convention, and as an observer to the new Macolin Committee under the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions, the only legally-binding international treaty surrounding match manipulation and a Committee which FIFA is also looking forward to engaging with.