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World Cup Bid Committee Sets Bold Human Rights Strategy for Houston 2026 and Beyond

The Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee has shared its comprehensive and community-driven Human Rights Report, which advances 73 opportunities prioritized by stakeholders that will ensure human rights protections and advancements are central to all areas of the bid committee’s delivery plan while cementing a positive legacy around the 2026 FIFA World Cup in Houston and beyond. The human rights plan was designed following consultation with more than 100 local, national and global stakeholders.

Prioritizing human rights has been an essential piece to Houston 2026’s strategic plan from its inception. The Houston 2026 Human Rights Sub-Committee was created in March 2019, led by human trafficking expert Minal Patel Davis, who serves as director of the Mayor’s Office of Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence. The sub-committee has guided the city’s strategy for addressing human rights as a central part of Houston’s plan for becoming a World Cup host city in 2026.

As part of FIFA’s evolving and collaborative approach to bidding, the sub-committee oversaw the critical task of a formal stakeholder engagement process focused on human rights. Stakeholders represented a broad array of sectors, including city and county government, non-profits across human rights areas, and worker’s rights organizations. The result of the process is the creation of Houston 2026’s 200-page Human Rights Report [] that highlights 73 activities with built- in enforcement mechanisms to enhance human rights in eight areas of opportunity: safety and security, worker’s rights, migrants, non-discrimination, human trafficking, right to participate, housing rights and disability access.

If Houston is successful in its host city bid, the 73 opportunities will be delivered across nine thematic areas:

  1. Regulatory and Human Rights Audits with Feedback Mechanism–10
  2. Responsible and Transparent Procurement–5
  3. Contracts and Compliance–8
  4. Policies and Procedures–8
  5. Creating Funding Streams through the Bid Committee–3
  6. Building Capacity of Existing Resources–7
  7. Collaboration and Public/Private Partnerships–12
  8. Training and Awareness–10
  9. Community Engagement and Outreach–10

Chris Canetti, Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee President said: “Through this comprehensive human rights plan, we hope to help implement meaningful change in the way mega sporting events are hosted worldwide as we lean into soccer’s ability to unite people with different views, economic classes and races. FIFA’s significantly increased priority on this area has been very encouraging and allowed us to place additional focus on that area of our bid, resulting in a level of comprehensiveness that we believe will greatly enhance our legacy, benefitting this city and the global soccer community around the 2026 World Cup and well beyond.”

Patel Davis said: “As America’s City of the Future, Houston places great emphasis on opportunity for all, and the protection of both basic and expanded human rights. The level of thoughtful engagement we received from our unified community through this stakeholder engagement process and the resulting outcomes give us full confidence that we can deliver a human rights utopia, and we look forward to the opportunity to implement these solutions if selected as a 2026 FIFA World Cup host city.”

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