The reiteration of this support follows the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes’ Commission call to maintain the ban on podium protests under Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter. Despite international pressure to relax the rule, the newly approved recommendations are oblivious of athletes’ internationally recognised human right to freedom of expression.
Together with many other sports bodies, including basketball player union NBPA and World Players Association (WPA), FIFPRO strongly opposes to any restrictions to the voice and activism by players – or any other human being.
“The IOC's decision will not deter our resolve or silence our voices”— by Michele Roberts, NBPA Executive Director and World Players Vice President
Michele Roberts, NBPA Executive Director and World Players Vice President, said: “Our Players have, without hesitation or apology, expressed their individual and collective commitment to securing justice for all in their communities - both domestically and globally. While we regret the IOC's decision to sanction those who choose to display their support for human rights, it will not deter our resolve or silence our voices.”
In recent years, even previously reluctant sports bodies have made positive changes to their policies and decisions, which hasn’t gone unnoticed. Athletes have played a crucial role in bringing about systemic change through and beyond sport by expressing their voice. The world has witnessed players taking a knee, raising a fist or wearing symbols to promote a cause or address injustice. Rightfully so, according to organisations including CGF, FIFA, UEFA, World Athletics, NBA, WNBA, MLB, NHL, NFL, AFL, EPL and many others.
“The IOC’s solitary approach falls well behind that of the football community and should not provide any reason to hold us back”— by Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, FIFPRO General Secretary and World Players Vice President
FIFPRO General Secretary and World Players Vice President, Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said: “FIFPRO stands with all footballers who may choose to peacefully express their views and be part of a wider movement for positive social change at the Olympics. We will work with our members and the global player association movement to ensure they’re properly protected and supported. The IOC’s solitary approach falls well behind that of the football community and should not provide any reason to hold us back.”
“the review was not aligned with respect for internationally recognised human rights”
Unless and until the IOC fundamentally alters its recommendations for Rule 50, the internationally recognised human rights of athletes will continue to be at risk. FIFPRO commits itself to working with WPA, governing bodies and other stakeholders to offer support to athletes in any way necessary to ensure their human rights and freedom of expression are fully recognised, respected and protected – before, during and beyond Tokyo 2020.