Letter to FIFA President Gianni Infantino
People in Need joins 13 other Russian and international human rights organizations and signes the letter to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, ahead of the upcoming World Cup 2018 in Russia, which millions of people will watch in less than a month.
We call upon the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to engage with the Russian authorities on the human rights crisis in Chechnya, in particular on the attack against the leading Russian human rights organization Memorial, by jailing prominent human rights defender and the head of Memorial’s local office, Oyub Titiev, on fabricated criminal charges.
Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, was confirmed by FIFA as the team base camp for Egypt.
We are concerned, based on our experience in the region, that Ramzan Kadyrov, who has repressed even the mildest dissent, will seek to take advantage of the use of Grozny as a training camp location to boost his credibility and prestige, and that this will precipitate a further crackdown on human rights work in the lead-up to and aftermath of the World Cup, particularly against critical voices in the region.
FIFA can immediately act by using its leverage with the Russian authorities and directly with President Putin to protect Titiev and Memorial. Such engagement would show that FIFA’s presence in the region does not deflect attention from egregious human rights violations, but rather promotes and protects human rights.
Such engagement is consistent with FIFA’s responsibility to respect human rights under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. It is also consistent with the commitment in article 3 of FIFA’s statutes to promote the protection of international human rights, and would demonstrate determination to implement its new Human Rights Policy.