Human Rights in Sport Initiatives

Civil society organizations have been at the forefront of addressing human rights violations and calling for equality and non-discrimination in sport. Below is listed a selection of key actors.

Civil Society and Human Rights Organizations

  • Amnesty International

Research on worker’s rights in Qatar; in close contact to affected groups (Brazil).

  • Building and Wood Workers International (BWI)

Focus on (migrant) worker’s rights.

  • Danish Institute for Sport Studies

Focus on good governance.

  • FIFPro World Player’s Union

Concentrating on player’s rights.

  • Football Supporters Europe

Focus on spectators and fans.

  • Human Rights Watch

Recently research on worker’s rights in Russia.

  • Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB)

Coordinating the MSE Platform.

  • International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

Focus on labour rights.

  • Shift Project

Focus on the implementation of the UNGPs

  • Solidar Suisse

Campaign for labour rights in the context of MSEs, mainly targeting FIFA.

  • Supporters Direct Europe

Focus on fans and supporters.

  • Terre des Hommes International Federation

Focus on child rights, campaign “Children Win”.

  • Transparency International Germany

Focus on anti-corruption and transparency.

  • World Player’s Association

Coordinating the Sports and Rights Alliance (SRA), concentrating on athlete’s rights.

Platforms and Alliances

The Mega-Sporting Events Platform for Human Rights aims at bringing together all relevant actors in order to work „together to develop more comprehensive, consistent, and accountable approaches to managing social risks and adverse human rights impacts arising from MSEs“.

The Sport and Rights Alliance aims “to address the decision-makers of international sports mega-events to introduce measures to ensure these events are always organized in a way that respects human rights (…), the environment and anti-corruption requirements at all stages of the process“.

FIFA Independent Human Rights Advisory Board: Consisting of representatives of companies, organizations and unions, its task is to “provide FIFA with advice on all issues that the board members may consider relevant for the implementation of FIFA’s human rights responsibilities“.


AGGIS - A project and webpage for better governance in sport: Co-funded by the EU and conducted by the Danish Institute for Sport Studies and Play the Game, the Sport Governance Observer is a first outcome of the project.

Our Game is a project initiated in Austria, led by fairplay-VIDC, focusing on awareness raising and addressing human rights in the context of MSEs that acts both on a national and international level.

SIGGS – Support the Implementation of Good Governance in Sport is an EU-funded project of the EOC. The aim is to „promote and support good governance in sport by providing practical guidance to National Olympic Committees”.

Queering Football: this ERASMUS+ project led by fairplay-VIDC  focuses on homophobia and anti-discrimination around MSEs.

Documents and Resources

This section gives an overview of human rights-related documents and material, not only but mostly in the context of sport & mega-sport events.

Sport Governing Bodies’ Policies

  • FIFA Human Rights Policy, May 2017

Stating that “FIFA is committed to respecting all internationally recognised human rights and shall strive to promote the protection of these rights”. FIFA implements their commitment using a four-pillar approach: I. Commit and embed; II. Identify and address; III. Protect and remedy; IV. Engage and communicate. The policy is based on the UNGPs.

  • FIFA Activity Update on Human Rights, May 2017

Making reference to their achievements in the organisational strategy, the strengthening of FIFA’s  ork on anti-discrimination, “the enhancement of monitoring and enforcement mechanisms regarding labour rights on stadium construction sites for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups in Russia and Qatar”, the broadening of engagement with football stakeholders and the creation of the Human Rights Advisory Board.

  • IOC Host City Contract 2024, December 2016

This host city contract includes clear requirements with respect to internationally recognised human rights standards, containing protection, respect and remedy, as well as a passage on anti-discrimination.

  • FIFA Statutes, April 2016 edition

In the recently revised edition, greater transparency came into effect as well as a new human rights statute (Article 3).

  • Transformation 2022 – The Commonwealth Games Federation Strategic Plan 2015 - 2022, 2015

Outlining the strategic priorities including “Innovative and Inspirational Games; Good Governance and Management; Strong Partnerships; A Valued Brand”; along the CGFs values humanity, equality, destiny. Within Strategic Priority Two, the CGF plans to “implement decisions and activities which adhere to universal principles of good governance”, including transparent budgeting, the development of human rights and corporate policies and procedures.

  • IOC Olympic Agenda 2020, December 2014

Consists of 40 recommendations, which should give “a clear vision” of where the Olympic Movement is headed to. While not explicitly mentioning human rights throughout the whole document,  ecommendation 4 refers to including “sustainability in all aspects of the Olympic Movement”,  ecommendation 14 to strengthening “the 6th Fundamental Principle of Olympism” which is the inclusion of non-discrimination on sexual orientation, Recommendation 29 – 32 refer to more transparency, compliance and ethics.

  • CWG Glasgow 2014, Approach to Human Rights, December 2013

A best practice example on an inclusive human rights policy, with regards to security, fundamental rights, child rights as well as sustainability and procurement.

Critical Studies and Recommendations

  • Red Card – Exploitation of Construction Workers on World Cup Sites in Russia, Human Rights Watch, June 2017

A research study on the exploitation of construction workers ahead of Russia 2018, including recommendations to the Russian government as well as to FIFA.

  • Fussball, Politik, Doping und Hooligans. Russland-Analysen, Mai 2017

An analysis on the political instrumentalisation of MSEs, antidoping and corruption (German only).

  • 14 White Papers, Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), January 2017

Elaborated with many stakeholders including sport governing bodies, sponsors, broadcasters, unions, international and human rights organisations.

  • Breaking Records. Child Rights Violations during the Rio 2016 Olympics. Terre des Hommes International Federation, September 2016

A report about child rights violations, police killings, the repression of protests and the sexual exploitation of children.

  • A Legacy of Violence: Killings by Police and Repression of Protests at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Amnesty International Brazil, September 2016

A report on killings by the police, the repression of peaceful protests and undue restrictions on freedom of expression.

  • For the Game. For the World. FIFA and Human Rights. Harvard Kennedy School, John Ruggie, April 2016

Ruggie’s acclaimed report including FIFA’s risks of human rights violations, an analysis of FIFA structures and processes and recommendations for FIFA.

  • Dossier. Rio 2016 – Sportgroßereignisse und Menschenrechte, Nosso Jogo, March 2016

A text collection including urban development, the history of MSEs and human rights as well as responsibilities (German only).

  • The Ugly Side of the Beautiful Game: Exploitation of Migrant Workers on a Qatar 2022 World Cup Site. Amnesty International, March 2016

A research on labour exploitation ahead of Qatar 2022.

  • Olympia-Hoffnungen für österreichische Unternehmen in Rio 2016? Herausforderungen, Potentiale und unternehmerische Verantwortung für Menschenrechte, Nosso Jogo, 2016

A research study on human rights challenges, potentials and responsibilities for companies in the context of the Games in Rio 2016 (German only).

  • Kehrseite der Medaille. Sportgroßereignisse in Brasilien zwischen Fehlplanung, Spekulation und dem Recht auf Stadt. Heinrich Böll Stiftung, November 2015

Analysing the case of Rio after the World Cup 2014 and before the Olympic Games 2016 (German only).

  • Sport Governance Observer, Play the Game, 2015

The report identifies serious governance deficiencies in international sport.

  • Promising Little, Delivering Less. Qatar and Migrant Labour Abuse Ahead of the 2022 Football World Cup. Amnesty International, May 2015

A report on migrant labour abuse ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

  • Striving for Excellence, Study by the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), October 2013

Analysing human rights risks and responsibilities within the life cycle of MSEs, with reference to the UNGPs.

General Guidelines

• OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, 2017

• UN Global Compact, 2017

• European Council Conclusions on Enhancing Integrity, Transparency and Good Governance in Major Sport Events, May 2016

• UN Resolution on Promoting Human Rights through Sport and the Olympic Ideal, March 2016  

• UNESCO International Charter of Physical Education, Physical Activity and Sport, 2015

• World Anti-Doping Code, WADA, January 2015

• ISO 20121: Standard for Sustainable Events Management, June 2012

• UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, 2011

• European Convention on Human Rights, Amendment from June 2010

• ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, 1998 (Annex reviewed 15 June 2010)

• ISO 26000: Guidance on Social Responsibility, 2010

• UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, November 1989

• UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, December 1948