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The Court of Arbitration for Sport: Where do human rights stand?

Copyrights: Centre for Sport & Human Rights

The Court of Arbitration for Sport: Where do human rights stand?

In the sports world, the Court of Arbitration for Sport is responsible for settling disagreements between identified individuals. But they also hold the potential to play a role in protecting human rights in the broader sports and sports mega-events fields.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) enjoys a high standing as the supreme dispute settlement body in the world of sports. But what potential role might CAS play in wider efforts to address human rights abuses linked to mega-sporting events and sports in general? That question is one the Centre for Sport and Human Rights is exploring.

Embedding respect for rights in hosting agreements

In 2017, international sports bodies like the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and FIFA started to incorporate human rights provisions into their statutes and future event-regulations.

The new host city contracts (HCCs) for the Summer Olympic Games in 2024 and 2028 and the Winter Olympic Games in 2026 now include human rights clauses as core requirements. By signing the contract, the host city, National Olympic Committee (NOC) and Local Organising Committee (LOC) guarantee to the IOC to:

protect and respect human rights and ensure any violation of human rights is remedied in a manner consistent with international agreements, laws and regulations applicable in the Host Country and in a manner consistent with all internationally-recognised human rights standards and principles, including the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

According to Article 3 of FIFA’s Statutes, “FIFA is committed to respecting all internationally recognised human rights and shall strive to promote the protection of these rights.

Based on revised bidding regulations for the 2026 World Cup, FIFA expects all bidders to respect internationally recognised human rights, including workers’ rights, when carrying out activities related to the bidding or hosting of events.

What role for CAS?

These documents include arbitration clauses with explicit reference to CAS. New Olympic host city contracts can trigger CAS arbitration for the non-performance of any contractual obligation, including human rights (as stated in principle 13; see principle 51.2). FIFA’s statutes require all member associations to accept the general jurisdiction of CAS, in particular when it comes to matters related to the fulfilment of obligations under FIFA regulations (see articles 57-59). In addition, FIFA’s revised regulations for the 2026 World Cup give CAS exclusive jurisdiction if disagreements cannot be swiftly resolved privately between the parties.


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Daniela Heerdt, Research Officer, Centre for Sport & Human Rights


Thursday, June 6, 2019 - 13:33