Tomáš Grell holds an LL.M.
in Public International Law from Leiden University. He contributes to
the work of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre as a research
Concerns about adverse
human rights impacts related to FIFA's activities have intensified ever since its
late 2010 decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cup to Russia and Qatar
respectively. However, until recently, the world's governing body of football
had done little to eliminate these concerns, thereby encouraging human rights
advocates to exercise their critical eye on FIFA.
In response to growing
criticism, the Extraordinary FIFA Congress, held in February 2016, decided to include an explicit
human rights commitment in the revised FIFA Statutes which came into force in April 2016. This commitment
is encapsulated in Article 3 which reads as follows: ''FIFA is committed to respecting all internationally recognized human
rights and shall strive to promote the protection of these rights''. At
around the same time, Professor John Ruggie, the author of the United Nations Guiding
Principles on Business and Human Rights ('UN Guiding
Principles') presented in his report 25 specific recommendations for FIFA on how to
further embed respect for human rights across its global operations. While
praising the decision to make a human rights commitment part of the
organization's constituent document, Ruggie concluded that ''FIFA does not have yet adequate systems in
place enabling it to know and show that it respects human rights in practice''.
With the 2018 World Cup
in Russia less than a year away, the time is ripe to look at whether Ruggie's
statement about FIFA's inability to respect human rights still holds true
today. This blog outlines the most salient human rights risks related to FIFA's
activities and offers a general overview of what the world's governing body of
football did over the past twelve months to mitigate these risks. Information
about FIFA's human rights activities is collected primarily from its Activity Update on Human Rights published alongside FIFA's Human Rights Policy in June 2017. More...
Editor's note: This report compiles all relevant news, events and
materials on International and European Sports Law based on the daily coverage
provided on our twitter feed @Sportslaw_asser. You
are invited to complete this survey via the comments section below, feel free
to add links to important cases, documents and articles we might have
The end of governance reforms at FIFA?
The main sports governance
story that surfaced in the press (see here and here) during the last month is related to significant
personal changes made by the FIFA Council within the organization’s
institutional structure. In particular, the FIFA Council dismissed the heads of
the investigatory (Mr Cornel Borbély) and adjudicatory (Mr Hans-Joachim Eckert)
chambers of the Independent Ethics Committee, as well as the Head (Mr Miguel Maduro) of the Governance and Review Committee. The decision to remove Mr Maduro was taken arguably
in response to his active role in barring Mr Vitaly Mutko, a Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, from sitting on
the FIFA Council due to an imminent conflict of interests. These events
constitute a major setback to governance reforms initiated by the football’s
world governing body in 2015. For a more detailed insight into the governance
reforms at FIFA, we invite you to read the recent blog written by our senior researcher Mr
Antoine Duval. More...
This is a follow-up
contribution to my previous blog on human rights
implications of the Olympic Games published last week. Together with
highlighting some of the most serious Olympic Games-related human rights
abuses, the first part has outlined the key elements of the Host City Contract
('HCC') as one of the main legal instruments regulating the execution of the
Olympic Games. It has also indicated that, in February 2017, the International
Olympic Committee ('IOC') revised the 2024 HCC to include, inter alia, explicit human rights
obligations. Without questioning the potential significance of inserting human
rights obligations to the 2024 HCC, this second part will refer to a number of
outstanding issues requiring clarification in order to ensure that these
newly-added human rights obligations are translated from paper to actual practice. More...
Tomáš Grell is currently an LL.M. student
in Public International Law at Leiden University. He contributes to
the work of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre as a part-time
In its press release of 28 February 2017,
the International Olympic Committee ('IOC') communicated that, as part of the
implementation of Olympic Agenda 2020 ('Agenda 2020'), it is
making specific changes to the 2024
Host City Contract with regard to human
rights, anti-corruption and sustainable development. On this occasion, IOC
President Thomas Bach stated that ''this
latest step is another reflection of the IOC's commitment to embedding the
fundamental values of Olympism in all aspects of the Olympic Games''.
Although the Host City of the 2024 Summer Olympic Games is scheduled to be
announced only in September this year, it is now clear that, be it either Los
Angeles or Paris (as Budapest has recently withdrawn its bid), it will have to abide by an additional set of human
This two-part blog will
take a closer look at the execution of the Olympic Games from a human rights
perspective. The first part will address the most serious human rights abuses
that reportedly took place in connection with some of the previous editions of
the Olympic Games. It will also outline the key characteristics of the Host
City Contract ('HCC') as one of the main legal instruments relating to the
execution of the Olympic Games. The second part will shed light on the human
rights provisions that have been recently added to the 2024 HCC and it will seek
to examine how, if at all, these newly-added human rights obligations could be
reflected in practice. For the sake of clarity, it should be noted that the
present blog will not focus on the provisions concerning anti-corruption that
have been introduced to the 2024 HCC together with the abovementioned human
rights provisions. More...
Tomáš Grell comes from Slovakia and is currently an LL.M. student
in Public International Law at Leiden University. He contributes also to
the work of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre as a part-time
This is a follow-up
contribution to my previous blog on FIFA's responsibility for human rights abuses
in Qatar published last week. Whereas the previous part has examined the lawsuit
filed with the Commercial Court of the Canton of Zurich ('Court') jointly by the Dutch trade union FNV, the
Bangladeshi Free Trade Union Congress, the Bangladesh Building and Wood Workers
Federation and the Bangladeshi citizen Nadim Shariful Alam ('Plaintiffs')
against FIFA, this second part will focus on the Court's ruling dated 3 January
Editor’s note: Tomáš Grell comes from Slovakia and is currently an LL.M. student in Public International Law at Leiden University. He contributes also to the work of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre as a part-time intern.
On 2 December 2010, the FIFA Executive Committee elected Qatar as host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup ('World Cup'), thereby triggering a wave of controversies which underlined, for the most part, the country's modest size, lack of football history, local climate, disproportionate costs or corruption that accompanied the selection procedure. Furthermore, opponents of the decision to award the World Cup to the tiny oil-rich Gulf country also emphasized the country's negative human rights record.
More than six years later, on 3 January 2017, the Commercial Court of the Canton of Zurich ('Court') dismissed the lawsuit filed against FIFA jointly by the Dutch trade union FNV, the Bangladeshi Free Trade Union Congress, the Bangladesh Building and Wood Workers Federation and the Bangladeshi citizen Nadim Shariful Alam ('Plaintiffs'). The Plaintiffs requested the Court to find FIFA responsible for alleged human rights violations of migrant workers in connection with the World Cup in Qatar. Had the Plaintiffs' claims been upheld by the Court, such decision would have had far-reaching consequences on the fate of thousands of migrants, mostly from India, Nepal and Bangladesh, who are currently working on the construction of sporting facilities and other infrastructure associated with organization of the World Cup. More...
Editor's note: Conor
Talbot is a Solicitor at LK Shields Solicitors in Dublin and an
Associate Researcher at Trinity College Dublin. He can be contacted at
email@example.com, you can follow him on Twitter at @ConorTalbot and his research is available at
www.ssrn.com/author=1369709. This piece was first published on the humanrights.ie blog.
Sport is an integral part of the culture of almost
every nation and its ability to shape perceptions and influence public opinion
should not be underestimated. The United
Nations has highlighted the potential for using sport in reducing
discrimination and inequality, specifically by empowering girls and women. Research indicates that the benefits of sport include enhancing
health and well-being, fostering empowerment, facilitating social inclusion and
challenging gender norms.
In spite of the possible benefits, the successful
implementation of sport-related initiatives aimed at gender equity involves
many challenges and obstacles. Chief
amongst these is the way that existing social constructs of masculinity and
femininity — or socially accepted ways of expressing what it means to be a man
or woman in a particular socio-cultural context — play a key role in
determining access, levels of participation, and benefits from sport. This contribution explores recent
developments in the interaction between transgender and intersex rights and the
multi-billion dollar industry that the modern Olympic Games has become. Recent reports show that transgender people continue to suffer from the glacial pace of change in social attitudes
and, while there has been progress as part of a long and difficult journey to afford transgender people full legal
recognition through the courts, it seems clear that sport could play an increasingly
important role in helping change or better inform social attitudes.More...
Piotr is an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.
On 24 July the Court of Arbitration
for Sport (CAS) issued its decision in the proceedings brought by the Indian
athlete Ms. Dutee Chand against the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) and the
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in which she
challenged the validity of the IAAF Regulations Governing Eligibility of
Female with Hyperandrogenism to Compete in Women’s Competition (Regulations). The Regulations were
established in 2011 as a response to the controversies surrounding South
African athlete Caster Semenya (see e.g.
here, here, and here), and for the purpose of
safeguarding fairness in sport by prohibiting women with hyperandrogenism, i.e. those with excessive levels of
endogenous (naturally occurring) testosterone, from competing in women athletics
competitions. Owing to the subject-matter that the Regulations cover, the case
before the CAS generated complex legal, scientific and ethical questions. The
following case note thus aims at explaining how the Panel addressed the issues
raised by the Indian athlete. It follows a previous blog we published in December 2014 that
analysed the arguments raised in favour of Ms. Chand. More...
The 40 recommendations of the Olympic Agenda 2020 are out! First
thought: one should not underplay the 40 recommendations, they constitute (on
paper at least) a potential leap forward for the IOC. The media will focus on the hot stuff: the Olympic
channel, the pluri-localisation of the Games, or their dynamic format. More
importantly, and to some extent surprisingly to us, however, the IOC has also fully embraced
sustainability and good governance. Nonetheless, the long-term legacy of the
Olympic Agenda 2020 will hinge on the IOC’s determination to be true to these
fundamental commitments. Indeed, the devil is always in the implementation, and
the laudable intents of some recommendations will depend on future political choices
by Olympic bureaucrats.
For those interested in human rights and
democracy at (and around) the Olympics, two aspects are crucial: the IOC’s
confession that the autonomy of sport is intimately linked to the quality of
its governance standards and the central role the concept of sustainability is
to play in the bidding process and the host city contract. More...
Three weeks ago, I gave a talk for a group of visiting researchers
at Harvard Law School on the accountability of the IOC for human rights abuses
caused by hosting Olympic Games. On the day of that talk, Human Rights Watch announced
that the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”) would insert new language into
the Host City Contract presumably for the 2022 Olympic Games onwards. The new
language apparently requires the parties to the contract to:
“take all necessary measures to ensure that
development projects necessary for the organization of the Games comply with
local, regional, and national legislation, and international agreements and
protocols, applicable in the host country with regard to planning,
construction, protection of the environment, health, safety, and labour laws.”More...