KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: FIFA presidential candidate Gianni Infantino would organise up an urgent early meeting with Human Rights Watch if elected to lead the world federation next week.
Infantino is one of five candidates chasing the presidency vacated by the subsequently suspended Sepp Blatter.
All five candidates had been sent a ‘pledge card’ by the pressure group and invited to sign up to its ideals.
Infantino’s Bahraini rival, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, signed only after removing items to which he objected such as references to the Russia and Qatar World Cups and abuses against women and LGBT groups.
Infantino, however, has responded that much of the card’s content was covered in his manifesto “in particular around governance, transparency, stakeholder engagement, more diversity at FIFA and a fully transparent [World Cup] bidding process.”
The most significant human rights concern within world football has concerned labour rights for construction workers in Qatar.
Infantino, in a letter to Minky Worden, HRW’s director of global initiatives, has created a clear divide between his stance and that of the Asian confederation president.
He said: “There is no question in my mind that FIFA has a clear responsibility to ensure that workers directly involved in the delivery of its tournaments should have their human rights protected.
“For anyone that knows me or has followed my career at UEFA, I have lived my life based on the premise that actions speak louder than words.
“It is a simple act to sign a ’pledge’, yet the real test of a pledge and the character of the person signing it is in their concrete actions, not words.
“During my time at UEFA, I have taken very strong measures to combat all forms of discrimination and racism.”
Infantino promised to meet HRW “within the first month” of taking office if he were elected.