Human rights policy urgently needed in Australian football

Ahead of an episode of Four Corners on ABC TV on Monday evening, Amnesty International Australia has called for an urgent implementation of FIFA’s human rights policy in Australian football.

“So far, the governing body, Football Australia, has declined to sign on to FIFA’s human rights policy. It’s hard to understand why this would be, unless it’s because they wish to protect the investments of clubs whose owners can’t comply with the code,” Amnesty International Australia National Director, Sam Klintworth, said.

Amnesty International has highlighted the issue of sportswashing globally, where states guilty of human rights abuses have invested heavily in sports such as football in order to rehabilitate their reputations.

Last year, Amnesty led a campaign in the UK to oppose the purchase of Newcastle United by a Saudi-led consortium over such concerns. FIFA’s human rights policy also enabled them to advocate for the former Bahrain footballer, Hakeem al-Araibi when wrongly detained in Thailand.

“There is no reason at all that human rights standards can’t be respected and adhered to in the business of sport – in fact, it’s increasingly becoming the cost of doing business as fans demand high ethical standards from the clubs they love,” Klintworth said.

“Amnesty has been in touch with both Football Australia about the development of a human rights policy. We’ve had preliminary discussions which have been positive. Obviously as experts in the field, we’d welcome an opportunity to advise and assist on any human rights policy Football Australia develops.”