2022 Annual Report: Catalyzing the Power of Sport for Human Rights

The only way we can counterbalance sport’s powerful authorities and catalyze sport’s unique potential is because of the unwavering work of our partners, the collective action and passion from the sports community, and the incredible support of our donors. And so as we reflect on all we’ve accomplished, our gratitude belongs, first and foremost, to you. Andrea Florence, Director of the Sport & Rights Alliance

The Sport & Rights Alliance was born out of a deep commitment to champion human rights and anti-corruption in and through global sport. Since our inception in 2015, we’ve embarked on a transformative journey to harness, organize and amplify the expertise of our partners to drive systemic change throughout the world of sport. 2022 was no different. In the midst of major sporting events hosted by countries with troubling human rights records, our efforts took on heightened significance. We leveraged the international spotlight harnessed by events such as the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar and Beijing Winter Olympics, to advance human rights in the public consciousness and call on sport governing bodies to uphold their human rights responsibilities as organizers of these events. Click here to download our 2022 Annual Report or keep reading for a brief summary.

In 2022, the Alliance achieved the following milestones across our four strategic goals:

  1. Humanity of Sport: Policies and Governance of Sport Governing Bodies

Our strategic campaigns and advocacy culminated in pivotal good governance and policy shifts from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and FIFA in 2022. From compelling the IOC to finally adopt a human rights strategic framework to FIFA’s establishment of a World Cup Grievance Mechanism, our influence resonated across global sports. The Alliance also highlighted UEFA’s lack of transparency and meaningful engagement during the formulation of its 2030 Football Sustainability Strategy, and requested to be removed from the list of stakeholders for these reasons. Moreover, the Alliance coordinated a multi-pronged campaign to support and seek justice for survivors of sexual abuse on the U-19 Mali girls’ national basketball team, leading to FIBA’s  commission of an independent investigation by McLaren Global Sport.

  1. Powerful Sporting Moments: Shaping the Course of Major Sporting Events

The Alliance questioned FIFA’s decision to award the Club World Cup hosting rights to the United Arab Emirates without undertaking the comprehensive human rights assessment and stakeholder consultation set out under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and FIFA’s own Human Rights Policy. Ahead of and during the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic & Paralympic Games, the Alliance hosted a media briefing on journalists’ safety and human rights risks around the event and worked with World Players’ to push for athletes’ rights. Soon after, the Alliance penned an open letter to IOC’s president Thomas Bach demanding urgent human rights reform  given the “human rights catastrophe” regarding abuses of press freedom, freedom of speech and governance on display during the competition within the precincts of IOC.

During the 2022 Qatar FIFA Men’s World Cup, the Alliance supported global campaigns and advocacy on the labor, LGBTI+ and women’s rights in Qatar. The Alliance also amplified and supported the Committee to Protect Journalists’ advocacy and calls for remedy for the arbitrary arrests of two Norwegian journalists. The Alliance also hosted a widely-attended press briefing on the broader landscape of human rights abuses in Qatar.

  1. The People of Sport: Advocating for Individuals in the World of Sports

The Alliance supported demands for justice for Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, who courageously reported sexual assault, and called on the IOC to abandon its plans to host an inappropriate dinner for her with its president. The Alliance rallied against the systemic abuse of Mali U-19 girls basketball players and continued to push for reforms within the Mali Basketball Federation, leading to the establishment  . We championed the rights of Iranian women through the #OpenStadiums campaign, advocating for the inclusion of women in stadiums, and called on FIFA to pay attention to the Afghan Women’s National Football Team and recognize their right to play in exile.

  1. The Sport and Human Rights Movement:

One of the Alliance’s standout achievements in 2022 was the initiation of the Global Network of Athlete Survivors. Led by Brazilian Olympian and survivor Joanna Maranhão, in partnership with Paralympian and researcher Stephanie Dixon, a resounding consensus emerged, emphasizing the requirement for a global network that aids athletes and whistleblowers subjected to sports-related abuse. In 2022, the Alliance also collaborated with partners to produce the guide “Establishing Effective Safe Sport Entities,” offering crucial principles for combating abuse in sports. The Alliance also significantly expanded its social media presence which drove website traffic.

Throughout 2022, the Sport & Rights Alliance and its partners have forged transformative paths toward systemic change, amplifying the voices of those impacted and fanning the flame for human rights. We remain more committed than ever to continue to work toward a world where sport is an authentic force for good, and where dignity, justice, and inclusivity thrive for all. 

Read the Sport & Rights Alliance’s 2022 Annual Report here.