Sporting events must serve people, not big corporations

The European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and Committee on Culture and Education will hold a joint hearing Wednesday 6 May on large sporting events and their links to human rights issues. The speakers will give an input on the FIFA World Cups in Russia and Qatar, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in and other sporting events.

Green MEP Barbara Lochbihler has been dealing for many years with the difficult relationship between sporting events and human rights. She is very concerned about FIFA’s decision to bring the World Cup to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022. In addition to the obvious corruption behind this decision, the most alarming aspect for Mrs Lochbihler is the inhuman conditions in which migrants are made to work in preparation of the World Cup in Qatar. Although the government of the Arabic State has promised to improve conditions, progress has yet to be shown.

“FIFA has to setup an independent commission which evaluates reforms in Qatar”, explains Barbara Lochbihler.

For Green MEPs, there is no doubt that in the long term, the World Cup assignment process needs to be reformed in a fundamental way. FIFA has to include human rights aspects in evaluating the capacity of candidate states to host such events. Beside infrastructure and other technical issues the state of human rights as well as risks of abuse during preparations and performing of the games have to play an important role in the decision. This concerns the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games as well as other large sporting events.

Barbara Lochbihler said: “These events have to serve people, not big corporations or corrupt officials.”

Until now it is not clarified how the decisions for Qatar and Russia were concluded, because until now the Garcia-Report, which should explain this, is not totally published. FIFA has to do this and if necessary, there must be a new attribution.

The hearing will take place in the European Parliament, Altiero Spinello building (ASP) 3G3, from 9h30.

Introductory remarks will be made by Mrs Elena Valenciano, Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights and by Ms Silvia Costa, Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education.

Speakers include

  • Ms Minky Worden, Human Rights Watch.
  • Representative from the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), tbc.
  • Mr Florian Bauer, Special journalist at WDR/ ARD German TV, ARD sport political reporter.
  • Mr Janez Kocijancic, Vice-President of the European Olympic Committees.
  • Ms Sarah Widmaier, Scientific Coordinator “Research Programme”, IFA (Institute for external relations).<xml></xml>

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