FIFA taps U.N. official for global human rights review

Mon Dec 14, 2015 4:16pm EST
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BOSTON (Reuters) - FIFA on Monday named a United Nations official focused on business and human rights to develop a plan for soccer's global governing body to adopt the UN's guiding principles on human rights.

John Ruggie, the UN Secretary-General’s special representative for business and human rights and a professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, will produce an independent review of how well FIFA's operations measure up to international human rights standards for workers. It will be the subject of a report released publicly in March, the school and the sporting organization said on Monday.

Respect for human rights must be a core principal for FIFA and the review is part of the organization's "ongoing reform process," Acting FIFA President Issa Hayatou said in a statement.

Zurich-based FIFA was thrown into turmoil in May when the United States indicted 14 of its top officials for alleged corruption. The organization is in the midst of trying to pick a new president after Sepp Blatter was suspended for 90 days as he faces criminal investigation in Switzerland.

He has denied wrongdoing.

"This has the potential to set the bar for other global sports organizations, and place respect for human rights front and center for a broad range of entities involved in global sporting events," Ruggie said in a statement issued by Harvard, located just outside Boston.

A team from Shift, which Ruggie chairs and specializes in working with companies to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, will also work on the review.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Andrew Hay)

The sun is reflected in FIFA's logo in front of FIFA's headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland November 19, 2015.  REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann