A compression wear brand telling adidas what to do? Surely not…..
Well read on…
In the next few days, I’m hoping you’ll be reading about the latest project that we at SKINS are involved in. For regular readers, the subject will come as no surprise because we’re spearheading a call for reform at a sporting federation. This time we’ve joined up with international workers’ unions and the FIFA pressure group #NewFIFANow to focus on FIFA, the world governing body of football.
In the past you’ll have read my thoughts on many issues that fundamentally challenge our own long-standing brand values and believe me this is another one that does exactly what it says on the tin!
This action, which was launched at a press conference in London today (18th May) draws attention to FIFA’s refusal to force Qatar, the hosts of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, into changing the awful conditions immigrant workers face on World Cup infrastructure construction sites and their living conditions. Our activity is also focused on FIFA’s sponsors and partners who so far, have failed to uphold their own levels of corporate social responsibility and pressurise FIFA into action.
At SKINS, we’re proud of the fact that we work under clear, unambiguous standards that have been specifically set for ourselves and our partners. These standards are laid out in a Code Of Conduct and can be viewed on our website at; www.skins.net/uk/skins-values-and-history .
We believe FIFA’s partners and sponsors should be asserting their own values to ensure FIFA operates in a way that ensures football, like all sport, is a vehicle for positive social change. In Qatar, where migrant workers are literally dying on the job, it isn’t.
Recently, I travelled to Qatar to see things for myself and boy, did I get a shock. The official agencies have all played down the effects of Qatar’s kafala labour law which effectively restricts the rights of workers. Sharan Burrow, the General Secretary for the International Trade Union Confederation says Qatar is a slave state and after my trip it’s hard to disagree.
While I was there, I managed to sneak some footage of the awful, squalid conditions the workers have to endure. You can see the evidence for yourself at www.officialnonsponsor.com.
When I came back, I decided to take things further and after discussion with Sharan, officials from the Trades Union Congress in the UK and with #NewFIFANow I decided to write to the CEOs of 8 FIFA sponsors and try and get something done. In the letter I said they were effectively contravening their own values and principles by contributing significant sums of money to FIFA and thereby implicitly endorsing and legitimising working practices and conditions in Qatar.
Consequently, I’ve invited each of them to support the call from #NewFIFANow for an independent FIFA reform commission to review, develop and implement an overhaul of FIFA’s statutes, committee structure and way of doing business. Frankly, while they’re sitting by and doing nothing FIFA is getting away with it and it stinks. The letters to each of the CEOs are also available to see at www.officialnonsponsor.com .
You’ll probably recall that recently SKINS declared itself the first “Official Non-Sponsor” of FIFA, to highlight our ‘unshared brand values’. We did that because FIFA is riddled with examples of mismanagement, poor judgment and allegations of systemic corruption. The problem in Qatar is just the tip of the FIFA iceberg and that issue alone graphically shows their negligence and self-denial when it comes to confronting international football’s major issues.
The fact that FIFA President Sepp Blatter will probably get re-elected for an unprecedented fifth term on May 29th is an absolute joke. In fact, it’s disgusting.
With all this going on, FIFA’s sponsors have so far restricted themselves to a series of rhetorical statements aimed at defending an indefensible association. We believe they should stand up and be counted, so we’ve stood up and said so.
I’d love you to join us and lend your voice to the thousands across the world who have already registered with #NewFIFANow to support the calls for FIFA reform. FIFA’s motto is ‘For the game. For the world’ At the moment, its serving neither.
Please join us at www.newfifanow.org .