FIFA launches child safeguarding programme and toolkit – FIFA Guardians

FIFA established guiding principles and minimum requirements to ensure child protection as part of its overall vision to safeguard children. FIFA toolkit aims to support the implementation of the FIFA Forward 2.0 Development Programme which obliges its 211 member associations (MAs) to take measures to protect and safeguard children from potential abuses and to protect their wellbeing within football.

The toolkit was developed by FIFA with its Child Safeguarding Expert Working Group, that involves UNICEF and the Council of Europe. It sets minimum requirements for all FIFA members on child safeguarding, that is defined as an umbrella term encompassing the prevention of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and neglect of children. It recognizes child protection, as an essential part of safeguarding that refers to the action taken in response to a specific concern for a child or children who may be suffering or is/are at risk of suffering harm or abuse.

The FIFA toolkit is based on 5 principles:

  1. Ensuring the best interest of each child.
  2. Respecting and promoting children’s rights as per Convention on the Rights of Children.
  3. Applying its principles to all children and without any discrimination.
  4. Safeguarding children, as part of everybody’s responsibility.
  5. Defining specific roles and responsibilities within each sport organization, to ensure that all concerns are reported and dealt with immediately in accordance with stated procedures.

The toolkit presents a sample child safeguarding policy and gives guidance on safe recruitment and screening procedures for all FIFA MAs, including a sample criminal record declaration form for all applicants working directly with children.

Some FIFA MAs have well-developed policies and procedures in place, others are just starting out on their safeguarding journey. FIFA recommends that MAs implement these steps together with local expert partners, including NGOs. The MAs are expected to implement all child safeguarding steps within 24 months of the launch of this toolkit.

Sport events and the protection of children from sexual exploitation was part of the discussion convened by the Council of Europe during the first International Summit on Child Protection in Travel and Tourism, it concluded that:

  • The sexual exploitation of children doesn’t only take place in mega sporting events, but also within smaller sports clubs and both boys and girls can become victims.
  • A zero-tolerance policy toward the sexual exploitation of children needs to be adopted by all sports clubs. Child protection policies should be introduced by all sports organizations.
  • To holistically address this issue, greater effort is needed and training needs to be provided to staff working in sports clubs.
  • Governments need to implement international standards and ensure that all sport movements implement them. All stakeholders, including grass-root sport organizations, must team up to create a culture of zero-tolerance towards sexual exploitation of children.

Sport is powerful, it is a driver for a positive change. We need champions of child protection in travel and tourism.

The FIFA toolkit is available under this link.

Read the report from the International Summit on Child Protection in Travel and Tourism here.