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FIFA Told to Deny Saudi Arab 2034 World Cup Over Human Rights

FIFA World Cup Trophy: Symbol of Global Football Excellence

As the 2034 World Cup bidding process heats up, Saudi Arabia is under intense scrutiny from human rights advocates and legal experts. A recent legal submission, penned by a distinguished team including British barrister Rodney Dixon KC and Professor Mark Pieth, urges FIFA to withhold the tournament from the kingdom unless substantial reforms are implemented. This development casts a spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s controversial human rights record and FIFA’s commitment to upholding its policies.

Legal Submission: Key Demands for Reform

The submission, filed with FIFA, outlines four critical areas where Saudi Arabia must make significant changes to align with international human rights standards:

Release of Political Prisoners: The kingdom is called upon to free all political prisoners and those arbitrarily detained immediately. The treatment of all prisoners must comply with global human rights norms, ensuring dignity and justice for all detainees.

Judicial Independence: To guarantee fair trials and impartial justice, the judiciary must be appointed independently of the executive branch and operate without external influences. This reform is crucial for establishing a robust legal system.

Migrant Workers’ Rights: Current employment laws are criticized for severely restricting migrant workers’ freedom. The submission demands reforms that would allow migrant workers to leave their jobs or the country without needing government permission, addressing a major humanitarian concern.

Women’s Rights: Significant improvements in women’s rights are essential. The submission calls for the criminalization of marital rape, enhanced protection against domestic violence, and granting women the right to be the legal guardians of their children when it benefits the child’s welfare.

Also Read: Brazil Wins Bid to Host 2027 Women’s World Cup

FIFA’s Commitment to Human Rights

FIFA’s regulations mandate that host countries commit to “respecting internationally respected human rights.” This submission challenges FIFA to adhere to its policies and ensure that hosting the World Cup does not equate to endorsing human rights abuses.

Rodney Dixon KC, representing the widow of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, emphasized the necessity of this move. “FIFA should not permit Saudi Arabia to host the World Cup if it continues to flagrantly disregard human rights in several areas,” Dixon stated. “It is obvious that Saudi Arabia falls very far short of those requirements. Given this, as matters currently stand, FIFA simply cannot properly permit it to host the 2034 World Cup.”

Saudi Arabia’s Ambitious Plans

Saudi Arabia is bidding for the 2034 World Cup as part of a broader strategy to enhance its global image and diversify its economy beyond oil. Central to this vision is the construction of the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Stadium, an architectural marvel set on a cliff near Qiddiya. However, these grand plans are overshadowed by the pressing need for human rights reforms.

What’s Next?

The deadline for submitting a full bid is July, and FIFA is expected to make a final decision by the end of the year. Dixon and Pieth’s legal submission serves as a critical juncture for FIFA. Will the organization stand up for human rights, or will it prioritize the financial and strategic benefits of hosting the World Cup in Saudi Arabia?

As the world watches, FIFA’s response to this submission will determine the host of the 2034 World Cup and signal its proper stance on human rights. Dixon and his team remain hopeful. “We hope that FIFA will constructively engage with the proposals put forward and that they stand ready to assist all interested parties to implement FIFA’s human rights policies effectively,” Dixon said. “It is most important that it produces tangible results and is not a mere paper exercise.”

The call for human rights reforms in Saudi Arabia adds a complex layer to the 2034 World Cup bidding process. As the decision date looms, FIFA faces a pivotal moment in defining its legacy in sports and human rights. The world awaits to see whether FIFA will uphold its principles or succumb to the allure of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious bid.

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