FIFA statement on Human Rights Watch report on Russia

FIFA shares Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) objective to ensure decent working conditions on FIFA World Cup stadium construction sites. According to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, FIFA has a responsibility to use its leverage to ensure the protection of human rights in stadiums that will be used for the FIFA World Cup. Despite the lack of contractual relations with construction companies, FIFA is going beyond what any sports federation has done to date to identify and address issues related to human and labour rights. In particular, FIFA has put in place a pioneer monitoring system, to identify issues and take concrete measures to address them. While incompliances with relevant labour standards continue to be found – something to be expected in a project of this scale, the overall message of exploitation on the construction sites portrayed by HRW does not correspond with FIFA’s assessment, which is based on the quarterly inspections conducted by independent experts and trade union representatives.

As part of the monitoring system, representatives of an independent expert organisation, the Klinsky Institute of Labour Protection and Working Conditions, carry out two-day inspections on a quarterly basis on all 2018 FIFA World Cup stadium construction sites. International and local trade unions (the Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) and the Russian Construction Workers Union (RBWU) regularly participate in these inspections and validate the resulting reports.

To date, a total of 58 inspections have been carried out. On average, the inspections covered 75 percent of the workforce employed on the construction sites at the time of the visits. During each stadium inspection, the monitoring team reviews all relevant documentation (such as time sheets, health and safety regulations, employment contracts and pay slips), follows up on critical issues, inspects the construction sites, interviews on average 24 employees at random, and provides training to construction supervisors on different aspects of decent working conditions. After each visit, the general contractor and construction companies receive a complete report with an overview of the observations, the outcomes and a list of recommendations for critical issues that need to be addressed and resolved. Particularly severe or recurring issues among contractors are escalated to the competent Russian authorities, who ultimately have the responsibility to protect human and labour rights on their territory and ensure that construction companies are held accountable.

Based on the detailed results of consecutive inspections, there is clear evidence that the monitoring system is helping to improve labour standards. The number of issues found by the experts of the Klinsky Institute has been reduced by 72 percent since the start of the monitoring system in April 2016. Moreover, the results of the fourth and fifth series of inspections show that the companies have rectified around 80 percent of the issues found in the previous visits. These numbers are based on the findings of the Klinsky Institute which were reviewed and confirmed by the trade union representatives from BWI and RBWU, whenever they participated in the inspections.  

For more information on the FIFA-LOC Decent Work Monitoring System, please refer to the letter of 8 June 2017 that FIFA sent to HRW in response to their questions (see attached).

In line with international standards and FIFA’s new Human Rights Policy, we consider it our responsibility to act on all credible information available on human rights risks linked to FIFA’s activities, such as the information collected by HRW for their report. As already expressed in our letter, FIFA regrets that HRW chose not to share results of their research with FIFA at an earlier point in time. This would have allowed us to use our monitoring system to verify the information, check if these issues have already been detected and resolved through the system, and take adequate measures to address problems when they occur. While we are carefully reviewing the findings from the HRW report, which was shared with FIFA in its entirety only last week, our ability to address issues is much more limited now, up to eleven months after they have been raised by workers and at a stage when the construction of the stadiums is already in an advanced stage, and in some cases completed. We will continue to engage with expert organisations such as HRW in the pursuit of our common objective to protect construction workers’ rights.

FIFA will continue to strengthen its efforts to ensure respect for human and labour rights throughout its operations. For an overview of that work, please see the recently published FIFA Activity Update on Human Rights, which also includes a status update on the implementation of all recommendations provided by Professor John Ruggie in his March 2015 report on FIFA and Human Rights that was commissioned by FIFA. FIFA’s work on human rights is informed by its collaboration with an independent expert Human Rights Advisory Board, composed of representatives from the United Nations, trade unions, civil society organisations and business.

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