In February 2016 ADHRB has filed a complaint with the Swiss NCP, alleging that FIFA violated the OECD Guidelines human rights provisions by allowing Sheikh Salman Al Khalifa from Bahrain to run for the FIFA presidency.
The complaint relates to the 2011 peaceful protests by Bahraini citizens for better recognition of democratic principles and human rights in their government. The complaint highlights that Sheikh Salman Al Khalifa, in his capacity as President of the Bahrain Football Association, General-Secretary of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sport, and Chairman of an inquiry committee into the behaviour of athletes during the protest movement, is reported to have been involved in the government crackdown of these protests and in retaliating against players and clubs alike for their peaceful activities during the protest movement.
The complainants maintain that FIFA failed to have carried out adequate due diligence when conducting “integrity checks” on all the candidates for the FIFA Presidency. As part of these “integrity checks” FIFA should have investigated candidates involvement in human rights abuses and should then have required investigation of Sheikh Salman Al Khalifas role in the 2011 government assault. ADHRB also complained about FIFAs refusals to investigate the underlying facts on several occasions since 2011.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
Upon completing the initial assessment, the Swiss NCP concluded the case stating that the Guidelines are not applicable to FIFA in this submission and that the issues raised do not fall within the scope of the Guidelines.
On 17 August 2016, the Swiss NCP rejected the complaint based on the results of its initial assessment. The Swiss NCP said the OECD Guidelines are not applicable to FIFA in the present submission and that the issues raised do not fall within the scope of the Guidelines. It reached this conclusion based on the following a) while FIFA is directly or indirectly involved in commercial activities, FIFA’s status as a multinational enterprise must be considered on a case by case basis. b) the Swiss NCP stated that nothing had come to the attention of the Swiss NCP to believe that the purported actions of Sheik Salman were related to the commercial relationship between FIFA and the Bahrain Football Association and c) finally that the selection procedure of candidates for the presidential election is an internal organization issue and not directly linked to specific commercial activities of FIFA. In a concluding remark, the Swiss NCP recommended to FIFA to address the topic of human rights with its member associations on a general basis in the relevant FIFA bodies.