Michael Van Praag, having won the approval of the international trades union for his stance on human and labour rights, has won a second endorsement, this time from Amnesty International UK.
The Dutch federation president is one of three challengers – along with Prince Ali of Jordan and Portugal’s former World Player of the Year Luis Figo – to incumbent Sepp Blatter for the president of world federation FIFA.
But according to Amnesty only Van Praag out of the four has set out a plan to address human rights, labour rights and corruption issues if successful in the ballot at FIFA Congress in Zurich on May 29.
The Sport and Rights Alliance, a coalition of leading non-governmental organisations, sports bodies and trade unions, sent all four a questionnaire asking specific questions about abuses linked to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and about the FIFA reform process.
All four candidates responded to the survey but only Van Praag made a detailed pledge to address the issues raised by the SRA.
On Monday Van Praag’s stance on labour rights issues concerning Qatar gained him an approval rating from the International Trade Union Confederation.
Amnesty, reviewing the candidates’ responses, noted: “Luis Figo issued a brief statement expressing the need for a zero tolerance approach to human rights abuses, corruption and labour issues, but gave few details of how he would address these problems.
“Despite numerous allegations of corruption and controversies over human rights concerns during his 17 years at the helm, current FIFA President Sepp Blatter made no personal commitment to addressing the issues.
“Instead, his office issued a statement outlining the work FIFA has done to tackle corruption, and pointed to a revision of the bidding process relating to human rights, labour standards, sustainability and anti-corruption measures.
“The office of current FIFA vice-president Prince Ali bin Al Hussein replied saying he was too busy to respond, and referred the alliance to his manifesto and previous statements.”
Eduard Nazarski, director of Amnesty International Netherlands which is a member of the SRA, was reassured by the signal from the responses that “they acknowledge it is no longer possible for FIFA to ignore the human rights impact of the World Cup and lack of transparency at the heart of world association football.”
But he cautioned: “The key test now is whether – whoever wins the election – they will deliver on these crucial issues. It´s easy to talk the talk and make broad commitments, but any claims that they will respect human rights and transparency will be meaningless if they don’t also walk the walk.
“If the candidates are serious about this agenda there is finally a chance that FIFA could change for the better. The next president must ensure that respect for human rights and a commitment to transparency are at the core of their mission.”