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Football's world governing body, FIFA, has launched a new initiative to help ensure human rights are respected in all of its activities. The independent advisory board, which includes FIFPro General-Secretary Theo van Seggelen (pictured), met for the first time on March 13-14, 2017.

"Through the power of football, FIFA, supported by FIFPro and other world experts in this field, can play a decisive role to advance human rights across the globe," Van Seggelen said.

"This is an important step to implement the recommendations put forth by Professor John Ruggie."

FIFPro is supportive of the historic report issued by Professor Ruggie, of Harvard University, who made 25 detailed recommendations to embed respect for human rights across FIFA’s global operations. The recommendations are based on the authoritative standard for doing so, the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which Professor Ruggie authored.

The current members of the advisory board, selected on the basis of their expertise in human rights-related matters, are (in alphabetical order):

• William Anderson (adidas)
• Rachel Davis (Shift)
• Ignacio Packer (Terre des Hommes)
• Sylvia Schenk (Transparency International Germany)
• Theo van Seggelen (FIFPro)
• Lene Wendland (Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights)
• Brent Wilton (The Coca-Cola Company)
• Ambet Yuson (Building and Wood Workers’ International)

The Advisory Board today (March 16, 2017) released the following statement (also available here):

"We welcomed our first day and a half of substantive discussions with the FIFA Administration, including the Secretary-General, about FIFA’s human rights responsibilities. It was an important opportunity to establish a general understanding of FIFA’s human rights efforts to date, and it was a forthright and frank discussion.

We reviewed a range of key issues that FIFA is taking action on, following from the 2016 independent report by John Ruggie on FIFA and human rights. We discussed the organization’s draft human rights policy and its ongoing consultations on this document. We also discussed the most pressing human rights issues in relation to the upcoming FIFA World Cups in Russia and Qatar, and the important progress being made in particular through the joint inspections being undertaken with Building and Woodworkers’ International in both countries. We also had detailed discussions about the work being done to implement FIFA’s anti-discrimination commitments, the process to include human rights in the 2026 bidding documents, the work of the new women’s football division, FIFA’s initial thinking on how to implement effective grievance mechanisms, and the work of the Israel-Palestine Monitoring Committee established by FIFA.

There were a number of examples of positive action that FIFA is taking, and we are encouraged by much of what we have heard. We recognize and appreciate the openness of FIFA to having these discussions with us. This will be essential to address the many critical issues that need further attention and effort. We will prioritize our ongoing work based on the most important human rights challenges we believe FIFA is facing.

We plan to take a very engaged approach in our work with FIFA and to develop practical advice and recommendations. We will shortly issue a more detailed set of operating principles about our approach as the Human Rights Advisory Board.

We will liaise closely with the new FIFA Governance Committee that is responsible for providing strategic advice on human rights to FIFA’s Council. We look forward to interaction with all relevant divisions of FIFA about their own roles in implementing FIFA’s human rights commitments. We note that the Advisory Board is not a replacement for broader stakeholder engagement by FIFA, nor a formal channel for resolution of grievances. We welcome active engagement with all stakeholders whose views can help inform our work.

We aim to publish our report on our initial meeting within the next 6 weeks."

FIFPro Media Contact:

For more details on this and other initiatives involving FIFPro, please contact Andrew Orsatti by making your request in writing to: