In a joint campaign, the human rights organisation Libereco and the citizens’ movement Campax are calling on UEFA to exclude Belarus from the 2024 European Football Championship. UEFA must honour its commitment to protect human rights. An online petition addressed to UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin was launched.

UEFA is being called upon to honour its “Human Rights Commitment” stated in 2021. In this commitment, the Union of European Football Association pledged to respect and promote human rights in all areas of football.

The regime of dictator Alexander Lukashenko has imprisoned more than 1,400 people who have peacefully striven for democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Among the political prisoners is the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Ales Bialiatski. In unfair and often secret trials, the innocent detainees are sentenced to draconian prison terms for political reasons. In prison, they are exposed to further harassment, torture and ill-treatment. The verdict against Bialiatski is expected soon.

“We call on UEFA to no longer turn a blind eye to this crime against humanity in the middle of Europe. A country that imprisons the Nobel Peace Prize winner and more than 1400 people for political reasons must be sanctioned by UEFA. UEFA now needs to follow up its fine words on paper with action on the pitch,” demands Lars Bünger, President of Libereco Switzerland.

Belarus supports Russia’s war against Ukraine

In addition to the violent repression of its own population, which has been going on for years, Belarus supports Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Belarus is effectively a party to the war and serves Russia as a deployment area and military base for attacks on neighbouring Ukraine. UEFA has excluded Russia from the European Football Championship, but not Belarus. Instead, it merely decided that Belarus must play its home matches on neutral ground and without fans.

“By its decision to punish Belarus just a little, UEFA makes itself completely inauthentic. UEFA should send a clear signal that countries like Belarus, supporting a war of aggression, are not welcome in the European football family. UEFA can do better in terms of respect for human rights than FIFA with its unfortunate awardings of the World Cup to Russia and Qatar. This would also be an important sign of solidarity to the victims of war and dictatorship in Ukraine and Belarus,” explains Urs Arnold, Campax campaign manager.