Petition: Put Human Rights at the Heart of Sport

Switzerland Must Ensure that Sports Bodies Respect Human Rights

Sport unites people and can help overcome differences. It is also a lucrative business that too often comes at the expense of human rights. As the home country of the world’s biggest sports bodies, Switzerland must ensure that sports bodies respect human rights in all their activities.

Some of the largest sports bodies such as FIFA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognize that they have a responsibility to respect human rights, as outlined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. However, Switzerland, which benefits economically from the presence of over 50 international sports federations, does not make such human rights due diligence mandatory– the only initiatives that exist are based on voluntary action.

This needs to change: Sports bodies must respect human rights and environmental standards just like other businesses should. We are calling on the Federal Council to develop effective measures to ensure that sports associations based in Switzerland comply with their human rights responsibilities.

YES to Sports, NO to Human Rights Violations!

Switzerland is home to over 50 international sports bodies whose commercial activities and turnover are comparable to those of medium-sized corporations. FIFA made a 7.5 billion USD in revenue from 2022 World Cup in Qatar and expects to make 11 billion USD from the 2026 tournament. The Lausanne-based International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s revenue is in a similar league.

However, the commercial success of major sporting events is too often offset by an abysmal human rights record. A few recent examples illustrate this finding:

  • At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, thousands of families were forcibly relocated because they had to make way for the Olympic infrastructure. Favelas were militarised, which led to an increase in police violence.
  • The 2018 FIFA Football World Cup in Russia took place in a context in which there were massive restrictions on freedom of assembly, repressive laws against LGBTI people and brutal crushing of protest.
  • At the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, freedom of expression was severely restricted. Anyone who voiced criticism risked imprisonment and other reprisals.
  • Amnesty International documented a whole series of human rights violations in the context of the 2022 FIFA Football World Cup in Qatar: From forced labour and exploitation of migrant workers* to discrimination against LGBTI* fans and restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly. In May 2024, Fifa has still not sufficiently fulfilled its duty to provide compensation for the injustices for which it is partly .
  • At the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, the French authorities are piloting an artificial intelligence-assistance surveillance system that threatens the rights to privacy, freedom of assembly and non-discrimination, while the government has banned French athletes from wearing a hijab while competing for the national Olympic team.

This year, FIFA will make decide who will host the 2030 and 2034 Men’s World Cups – with big implications for human rights. For 2030, a joint bid by Morocco, Portugal and Spain is being considered. For 2034, Saudi Arabia is the only bid on the table. Amnesty International has analysed the human rights risks of hosting the World Cup in each of these countries, and is calling on FIFA to agree binding human rights commitments with all countries before finalising any decision.

While commitments to respect human rights are welcome, history shows that sports bodies often do not fulfil their responsibilities. Voluntary measures are simply not enough to effectively protect human rights.

Join us!

Support our call on the Swiss government: As the host country of many international sports bodies, Switzerland must adopt effective measures to ensure that sports bodies respect human rights. Add your name to the petition here.

Related news

“Solidarity is a very strong tool in this fight.”

“Solidarity is a very strong tool in this fight.”

Athletes Network for Safer Sports Kicks Off with its First Online Event (Nyon, Switzerland, 10 June 2024) — After a year of careful preparations, the Sports & Rights Alliance has launched the Athletes Network for Safer Sports, a new program based on findings of an in-depth study and needs assessment consultation with survivors of abuse in sports. […]

READ MORE

Petition: Put Human Rights at the Heart of Sport

Petition: Put Human Rights at the Heart of Sport

Switzerland Must Ensure that Sports Bodies Respect Human Rights Sport unites people and can help overcome differences. It is also a lucrative business that too often comes at the expense of human rights. As the home country of the world’s biggest sports bodies, Switzerland must ensure that sports bodies respect human rights in all their […]

READ MORE

Olympics: Sex Offenders Have No Place at the Games

Olympics: Sex Offenders Have No Place at the Games

Survivor-led Groups Call for Disqualification of Athlete Sex Offender From Paris 2024 (Nyon, Switzerland – 5 July, 2024) The International Olympic Committee (IOC) should prohibit Dutch volleyball player Steven Van de Velde’s participation in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, the Sport & Rights Alliance Athletes Network for Safer Sports, The Army of Survivors, and Kyniska […]

READ MORE

Related resources

WNBA Stars Condemn Sex Abuse of Mali Players

WNBA Stars Condemn Sex Abuse of Mali Players

Nearly 2 Years On, International Basketball Association Has Yet to Take Action (Nyon, Switzerland, March 29, 2023) – As March Madness plays out, star US women’s basketball players have spoken out to condemn sexual abuse of teenage athletes in Mali to spotlight the need for urgent action and systemic reform in international basketball, Human Rights […]

READ MORE

2023 Annual Report: A New Era for Sport and Human Rights

2023 Annual Report: A New Era for Sport and Human Rights

Human Rights Can No Longer Be Ignored by the World of Sport “After years of fighting for global sport to recognize its impact and responsibility toward human rights, the year 2023 ushered in a new era – an era where human rights can no longer be ignored by sport governing bodies,” writes Andrea Florence, director […]

READ MORE

Olympics: Sex Offenders Have No Place at the Games

Olympics: Sex Offenders Have No Place at the Games

Survivor-led Groups Call for Disqualification of Athlete Sex Offender From Paris 2024 (Nyon, Switzerland – 5 July, 2024) The International Olympic Committee (IOC) should prohibit Dutch volleyball player Steven Van de Velde’s participation in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, the Sport & Rights Alliance Athletes Network for Safer Sports, The Army of Survivors, and Kyniska […]

READ MORE

Join the Network

Sport has the potential to be a catalyst for human development, unity, and freedom, but too often it instead brings harm to its athletes, fans, and communities. We exist to uncover and rectify the many abuses that exist both in and around sport. We aim to transform sports into an authentic force for good.