World Players Association
For immediate release
FIFA moves closer to global standards on child protection and wellbeing, says World Players Association
Geneva, 16 July 2019 – Last week, FIFA launched a new global programme to enhance child safeguarding standards in football. The World Players Association is pleased to see that the Child Safeguarding Toolkit relies on universal standards and best practices for its 5 steps and 5 principles that each Member Association (MA) must follow to protect children under their care.
Gigi Alford, Director of Sport and Human Rights for World Players Association said “FIFA’s steps towards implementing its responsibility to create a safe environment for children and young people in football are long overdue, especially considering the horrific abuse and mistreatment of athletes of all ages in the USA, Afghanistan, South Korea, and beyond. This initiative moves FIFA closer to the global standard set by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, but FIFA also needs the players at the table to ensure this doesn’t become a box ticking exercise.”
FIFA promises to roll out in the coming months training modules and workshops to promote global awareness of the Toolkit and its implementation in all MAs and work together with the Confederations.
“Setting standards and raising awareness is important,” said Andrea Florence, Child Athletes Wellbeing and Protection Officer for the World Players Association. “However, without enforcement and sufficient resources the Member Associations are less likely to take this initiative seriously. The next steps to strengthen the initiative are to clarify the sanctions and remedies that FIFA has put in place in case the standards are not followed. Likewise, FIFA must ensure that children’s voices are heard at every stage of implementation in age-appropriate ways. This requires dedicated staff, resources
, and wide engagement. World Players looks forward to collaborating with FIFA and other sports bodies taking similar steps, including through Project CARE.”
Project CARE (Census of Athlete Rights Experiences) is a two-year project aiming to change the way that the rights of child athletes are promoted and protected throughout world sport. The project involves a pilot study of the childhood experiences in organised sport of professional athletes affiliated with the World Players Association and adopting a set of recommendations for keeping child athletes safe directed at a range of different stakeholders in the sports community.
Dr Daniel J. A. Rhind, Reader in Psychology at Loughborough University, co-author of the International Safeguards for Children in Sport, and lead researcher on the Project CARE pilot study said “FIFA’s Child Safeguarding Toolkit adopts the good practice highlighted through our research regarding the International Safeguards for Children in Sport. It emphasises that safeguarding is a journey rather than a destination and that it should be tailored to the characteristics of the given context.”
“It is now important to build on this Toolkit through employing rigorous methods to capture the impacts of this resource, with a particular focus on the global experiences of children in football. There is now a real need to collect data on children’s experiences in football around the world. This will help us to understand the current situation, inform efforts to optimise these experiences and provide a baseline against which any progress can be tracked. Our on-going research in collaboration with the World Players Association represents a significant step in helping to address this need for evidence.”
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