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‘Sport and human rights are in our DNA’: World Players Association and UNI Global Union commit to new global Centre for Sport and Human Rights Advisory Council


‘Sport and human rights are in our DNA’: World Players Association and UNI Global Union commit to new global Centre for Sport and Human Rights Advisory Council

Geneva-based Centre will champion rights of all people affected by sport, including players and other workers

(29 June 2018, Geneva) – This week’s official launch of the independent Centre for Sport and Human Rights signals the next stage of global efforts to embed human rights in the world of sport. After more than 2.5 years of preparation, 36 founding members of the Centre’s Advisory Board, representing key sports bodies, trade unions, sponsoring brands, broadcasters, NGOs, and governments pledged in the world capital of human rights to work together towards the Centre’s vision of a world of sport that fully respects human rights.

“The establishment of the Centre will make sport stronger and better by ensuring that the values and ideals we so often ascribe to sport are translated into real benefits for people”, said Brendan Schwab, Executive Director of World Players. “At World Players, sport and human rights are in our DNA. We are committed to upholding the dignity of the player and the humanity of sport, and so we are natural long-term partners with this new body and unquestionably committed to seeing it achieve its mission.”

The Centre grows out of the work of the Mega-Sporting Events (MSE) Platform for Human Rights, which from November 2015 to June 2018 spurred on sustained collective engagement on human rights in sport with intergovernmental organisations, governments, sports bodies, athletes, local organising committees, sponsors, broadcasters, civil society representatives, trade unions, employers and their associations, and national human rights institutions. As a founding member of the MSE Platform steering committee, World Players has played an active role in the creation of the Centre and ensuring that its scope addresses the full range of human rights concerns in the world of sport, beyond merely the mega-sporting event.

“The most vulnerable people affected by the delivery of sport, from workers to journalists to fans and, of course, athletes, will be able to turn to the Centre to help them fight pervasive abuses in sport,” said Gigi Alford, Head of Sport and Human Rights at World Players and Coordinator of the Sport and Rights Alliance. “Inclusiveness is one of the Centre’s values, and we will ensure that the voice of affected groups, including players, is heard in this forum. We will also help athletes speak up for the rights of everyone.”

In collaboration with all actors, the Centre sets out to raise awareness, build capacity and strengthen accountability. This includes supporting access to remedy for those adversely impacted by the full life-cycle and supply chain of a mega-sporting event, such as the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup, or sport more broadly.

“A sporting career is short-term and high-risk. Athletes are therefore acutely aware of the importance of a prompt and effective remedy”, said Brendan Schwab. “We are committed to assist the Centre in strengthening existing grievance mechanisms and developing new ones where no means of remediation is currently available.”

The Centre Advisory Council includes sports organisations that have recently adopted or committed to adopting measures to abide by the corporate responsibility to respect human rights and labour rights, including FIFA, UEFA, the Commonwealth Games Federation, and the International Olympic Committee.

“Global sports bodies, with their complex supply chains and enormous economic footprints, are exactly the type of big business in need of the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multi-National Enterprises”, said Christy Hoffman, Secretary General of UNI Global Union. “The Centre for Sport and Human Rights will ensure that these giant sports bodies and their corporate and government partners use these standards to tackle systemic rights abuses.”

To read Brendan Schwab’s intervention at the inaugural meeting of the Advisory Council please click here.


The World Players Association sits on the Advisory Council of the Centre for Sport and Human Rights. World Players was a member of the MSE Platform Steering Committee, co-chaired the Platform’s Task Force on Affected Groups, and participated in the Task Force on Sports Governing Bodies.

In July 2017, World Players released the World Player Rights Policy. Its adoption is the first step that world sport must take to legally uphold the human rights and labour rights of players, act proactively to respect them, and ensure access to a remedy for those whose rights are violated.  Likewise, World Players has released its Declaration on Safeguarding the Rights of Child Athletes and its Gender Equality Principles.  In December 2017, World Players unveiled the Universal Declaration of Player Rights, the first comprehensive articulation of athletes’ rights in a single document. It sets out how international human rights and labour rights norms and laws apply to players as people first and also as workers.