Friday 03 June 2022, 17:01

FIFA attends RBFA and KNVB conference on human and labour rights

  • FIFA, UEFA, European Commission, European Parliament, International Labour Organization (ILO) and Amnesty International representatives share their views

  • FIFA highlights progress made in Qatar in cooperation with local stakeholders

  • Event co-hosted by Belgium and the Netherlands, two teams who will participate at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™

The role of human and labour rights at major football events, as well as the importance of hosting inclusive tournaments that promote tolerance and respect, took centre stage today at a conference organised by the Royal Belgian Football Association (RBFA) and the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) at RBFA headquarters in Tubize, Belgium. Opening the conference, RBFA CEO Peter Bossaert and KNVB General Secretary Gijs de Jong jointly highlighted the importance of securing and protecting human and labour rights in the world of football, particularly in relation to the FIFA World Cup 2022™. “We know this is a delicate subject, with different opinions, but our intention has been to provide a platform for information so everyone knows everything about this topic in order to form their own opinion,” said Bossaert in relation to the decision to host the conference on the day that Belgium and the Netherlands face each other in the UEFA Nations League at Brussels’ King Baudouin Stadium. “Since 2017, we can speak of real change in Qatar as the kafala system has been removed, and although there is still a lot to be done, Belgium will play in Qatar (in the FIFA World Cup) later this year in order to show the positive change that has been made.” De Jong added: “We are a community organisation, and we want to take our responsibility, both on and off the field. We were not comfortable with the decision process followed for this World Cup, and several years ago we put the ‘Pact of Amsterdam’ forward to request that human rights be added to the bidding procedures of global events. Our request was initially ignored, but credit to Gianni Infantino who accepted, and he added human rights to the process, so that by the time the FIFA World Cup 2026 was awarded by the FIFA Congress in 2018, this was included, and this is a very positive step for now and for the future.” Speaking specifically about the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the KNVB General Secretary added: “We have made efforts, such as being on the ground in Qatar to do our due diligence and to speak out to media about what we have seen. We have done this, because we have to base ourselves on facts to support human rights and in taking our responsibility.” “All workers in all sectors have our attention, it is the same for everyone,” added the RBFA CEO, referencing the two associations’ existing approach, which will be in place until the finals are over, and then beyond. “Sustainable change has come in Qatar, and change has come through football, and we want to use the power of the FIFA World Cup to ensure that change stays for good. And in relation to LGBTQI+ people, our question to FIFA and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy in Qatar is to ensure that everyone is welcome, that everyone is able to safely attend the FIFA World Cup and to be able to express their opinion.” Speaking via video message, the Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Promoting our European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas praised the role of the RBFA and KNVB as two leading associations on and off the pitch in upholding human and labour rights across the world, while recognising the proactive steps taken by tournament organisers, including FIFA and UEFA, by using their platforms to promote these rights even further. FIFA Head of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Andreas Graf underlined how the FIFA World Cup 2022 is acting as a catalyst for sustainable workers’ welfare reform in Qatar, as acknowledged by widely recognised international organisations, and said that preparations, including extensive training programmes, are ongoing as the tournament moves ever closer to operational mode. He also referenced the concrete efforts made by FIFA and its partners in Qatar to ensure that the FIFA World Cup 2022 is a welcoming and safe event for fans from all over the world, stating: “We have an excellent cooperation with our Qatari counterparts. No change would have been achieved without the efforts of the Supreme Committee and the Ministry of Labour to advance human rights and other rights in the country.” Representatives of UEFA, the European Parliament Sports Group, the International Labour Organization (ILO), Amnesty International and Belgian trade union organisations also provided their views on human and labour rights in Qatar as part of an open and constructive exchange.