The European Football Championship starts in Germany in exactly four months. While all the stadiums and much of the infrastructure are ready, there is still a lot of catching up to do elsewhere, according to Transparency International’s Sylvia Schenk.

“As far as I know, the ambition, especially of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, is this: we must not lag behind the standards of FIFA, that is Qatar, when it comes to the approach. And you still have work to do. to do there, because Qatar and FIFA resolved all the issues much more systematically and much earlier. I mean, more had to be done than now in Germany. But if you say that we don’t want to lag behind, then there is still a lot to be done here in Germany,” says the former track and field athlete, who has been active in international sports politics for decades and often points out human rights abuses.

On November 14 last year, the Home Office published a “Declaration of Human Rights for UEFA EURO 2024” in English, but according to Schenk, there is still no concrete action plan to comply with this human rights policy. j. At first glance, it may seem surprising that Germany, which ranks among the top 20 countries in the world according to Freedom House’s civil rights assessment, would clearly have to worry about human rights and not meet the standards of the World Cup. monarchical Qatar may retreat.

“In general, we are talking about preventing violations of the law – a very broad area. We are currently discussing a complaint mechanism with EURO 2024 GmbH. This is an important element in human rights concepts, which is why a complaints mechanism is also part of the supply chain due diligence law. Now this needs to be configured,” Schenk explains.

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The concept of “human rights” is broad.

While many fundamental rights are not themselves at risk in Germany, when it comes to a major event, for example, supply chains are at stake. Adidas, as a supplier, has long been familiar with this topic and, due to its size, is subject to the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act, which requires, for example, that working conditions at production sites abroad must meet a certain standard. “But there may be smaller suppliers who buy coffee or cocoa from, for example, where child labor is used. That’s why at such a large event, naturally, the entire supply chain becomes an issue,” Schenk says.

In addition, there are industries in Germany in which precarious working conditions prevail and labor standards are not always respected. This particularly affects the catering, cleaning and security sectors, which are essential for such a major event as the European Championships. The concept of human rights also includes such problem areas as accessibility for people with disabilities, safety at games, combating discrimination, combating racism and many other things that are closely related to this. For Germany as the host country, maintaining certain standards is something new, as they did not exist in this form at the 2006 World Cup.

“In Germany there is little experience in using all these tools in sports, almost none at all. This is all completely new for sports,” adds Schenk. “The UN Guiding Principles were adopted by the United Nations in 2011 and only then gradually penetrated into the economy. There are several German companies or companies based in Germany that started human rights activities before 2011. This was mainly due to certain incidents. and in companies that are particularly large and quickly go public.”

FIFA adopted human rights standards in 2016

However, human rights may not seem like the most pressing issue at the tournament in Germany, even as Australia, known for its freedom rights and host of the Women’s World Cup, has begun drawing up measures in advance. Added to this is the debate surrounding granting the right to host major international events to autocratic countries such as China, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. For Schenk, who called Qatar a “backward country” ahead of the 2022 World Cup despite all the criticism, there is a misunderstanding.

“The problem with the German discussions of the last two or three years was that it was not clear to anyone that the legacy issues of Beijing and Qatar would be resolved in 2022, because the awards for Qatar were already in 2010, and for Beijing in 2022. In 2015, that is, in the years when neither FIFA nor the IOC made any demands to respect human rights,” says Schenk. The world association FIFA included human rights in its statutes in 2016. Human rights issues were also discussed with the IOC in 2016 and 2017.

In addition to instructions from international sports associations, it is of course important for Germany, as a host country that claims to protect human rights, that there are no incidents during the European summer championships and that standards are as high as possible. . Otherwise, any criticism of Qatar or Saudi Arabia hosting the 2034 World Cup will be undermined to a certain extent.

Used sources

  • Countries and territories
  • Statements by Silvia Schenk, head of the sports working group of Transparency International in Germany

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