KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Amnesty International has expressed its concern and disappointment that none of the five candidates for the FIFA presidency satisfied its human rights questionnaire.

The world football federation holds an extraordinary congress in Zurich next Friday to choose a successor to banned and disgraced Sepp Blatter.

Surprisingly Tokyo Sexwale, the South African businessman who was once a fellow Robben Island prisoner along with Nelson Mandela, did not even bother to reply.

The other four – Jerome Champagne, Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein, Gianni Infantino and Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa – did at least respond.

Amnesty said none had signed up to action on the full range of concerns but they did express “their commitment to dealing with some of the issues raised.

“They acknowledged that transparency and accountability need to improve at all levels but none accepted the need for an independent advisory panel to oversee measures to tackle this.”

Prince Ali has since announced plans for former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan to lead an independent oversight group.

Headline issue

Human rights became a headline issue for major sports events organisers after widespread concerns about issues on the ground concerning Qatar, which hosts the World Cup in 2022, and Russia which staged the Winter Olympics amid controversy in Sochi in 2014 and is venue for the 2018 World Cup.

Amnesty had co-ordinated a consortium of NGOs including Human Rights Watch, Football Supporters Europe, Terre des Hommes and Transparency International Germany.

They had asked the five FIFA candidates to commit to six steps in their first 100 days as president to put FIFA on the road to ensuring the World Cup and other tournaments do not cause or contribute to human rights abuses and corruption.

Sylvia Schenk, from Transparency International Germany and a noted critic of FIFA, thought the responses showed “what a long way those at the top of FIFA have to go.

“There is no time to waste in taking action to stop human rights abuses linked to the World Cup in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022. The World Cup should not harm the local population.

“Actions speak louder than words and whoever becomes the next FIFA president must act immediately if they don’t want future events to be marred by human rights abuses and corruption.”

The pledges:

The pledges proffered by the NGOs included commitments to:

1, Take steps to ensure that effective measures to protect human rights and prevent corruption are taken at every stage of hosting a World Cup or other FIFA event;

2, Put in place effective measures to identify, prevent and mitigate the risk of corruption and human rights abuses linked to the World Cup and other FIFA events;

3, Call on the Russian and Qatari authorities to prevent human rights abuses linked to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups;

4, Increase accountability and transparency in national and continental federations as well as within FIFA and establish an independent advisory committee to oversee the implementation of the measures;

5, Promote gender equality by investing in the women’s game and tackle discrimination against women and LGBTI people, and to make ending discriminatory practices a condition of hosting a World Cup or other FIFA event; and

6, Consult NGOs and local communities affected by the arrival of a World Cup or other FIFA event and address, and where appropriate provide remedy for, any human rights abuses communities face that are tied to the event.