Complaint Against FIFA re. Human Rights Failures

Deighton Pierce Glynn are representing Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) in filing a complaint with the Swiss Government’s National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines in respect of FIFA’s failure to investigate evidence of complicity of FIFA members including the candidate for the FIFA presidency, Sheikh Salman Al Khalifa, in human rights violations in Bahrain.

In 2011, at the height of the peaceful pro-democracy protests in Bahrain, the Bahrain FA and Sheikh Salman appeared to join with other state authorities in taking action to suppress pro-democracy activities. High profile players were arrested and suspended from play and football clubs were relegated and fined. Public announcements of the sanctions confirmed that they were being imposed due to activities taken against the state. Many of the arrested players have made credible allegations of torture in detention.

Since this time, ADHRB has repeatedly asked FIFA to investigate but these requests have been refused. A further opportunity presented itself when FIFA recently conducted an ‘integrity check’ of candidates for the vacant FIFA presidency, but it failed once again to carry out effective due diligence in relation to Sheikh Salman’s involvement in these activities in Bahrain. A lengthy 60-page complaint has been lodged with the Swiss Government OECD National Contact Point today requesting urgent action to rectify this position ahead of the FIFA elections scheduled for 26 February 2016.

Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB, stated as follows: “The complaint is now in the hands of the Swiss Government National Contact Point, so we cannot comment on the substance save to clarify that we have repeatedly tried to raise these concerns with FIFA without success.”

Dan Carey, from Deighton Pierce Glynn, who is acting for ADHRB said: “FIFA is big business, and like all multinationals it has to comply with its OECD obligation to carry out effective human rights due diligence. Only FIFA has the authority to investigate the evidence of human rights violations in Bahrain but it has repeatedly failed to do so. I hope the OECD will now deal with the complaint quickly so that decisions can be taken in time for the elections.”

For more information about the OECD Guidelines and their role in preventing human rights abuses, see here.

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