2026 (5)

Child Rights and the FIFA World Cup 2026

The upcoming FIFA World Cup 2026 in Canada, Mexico and the United States is the first major sporting event (MSE) to require human rights commitments from host countries during the bid process. This is a historic milestone that will change the way MSEs are planned and delivered, creating a new legacy. 

The Centre for Sport and Human Rights has supported human rights efforts related to this men’s World Cup since 2020, through different activities.

Now the Centre wants to make sure that child rights are at the core of this World Cup’s legacy with a groundbreaking project. We are working with host cities across the three North American countries to advance the protection and promotion of the rights of children.

In 2023 CSHR is working closely with four host cities: Los Angeles and the New Jersey/ New York City region in the United States; Guadalajara, in Mexico; and Toronto, in Canada. Training, resources and participation in cross-city peer networks will be offered to all sixteen host cities in North America.

Project goals: Educate, Engage, Increase and Build

Through this project the Centre will:

  • Educate a broad audience on child rights in relation to sporting events
  • Engage with children, caregivers, sport organizations, governments, and Local Organizing Committees
  • Increase individual and collective commitment to child rights that incorporates the voices and participation of children
  • Build organizational capacity within and across host cities and among decision makers to safeguard and measurably improve child rights 

What are Child Rights?

Children have the same human rights as adults - as well as additional rights that are specific to their needs, like the right to play.  Child rights are set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention has four guiding principles: non-discrimination; child participation; survival and development; and the best interests of the child. The “best interests” principle means that in all actions concerning children the best interests of the child is a primary consideration.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
Child US Soccer supporters wave US flags in a stadium

Why is this project important?

Sporting events have a major impact in the daily lives of children. When large events come into communities, it is important to ensure that children’s rights are protected, and that children have a say in decision-making. Safeguarding children from harm is fundamentally important, before, during and after major sporting events. 

The project will create a model for integrating child perspectives and experiences in the planning, delivery, and legacy of major sporting events.

What do we hope to achieve?

By 2026 the Child Rights project implemented by the Centre will result in:

  • A more informed public on the relevance of child rights to MSEs. 
  • Informed and engaged host cities, sport organizations, and local organizing committees who are working to improve conditions for children in and around MSEs. 
  • More communities committed to promoting child rights, and more children who know and exercise their rights.
  • Cross-city coalitions dedicated to continuous improvement of child rights.


2016: United 2026 Bid concept announced May 2017: FIFA publishes Human Rights Policy March 2018: United 2026 Bid submitted to FIFA with human rights plan March 2018: Ergon Independent Report: Human rights in Canada, Mexico and the USA in the context of a potential FIFA 2026 World Cup competition 2018: United 2026 Bid awarded by FIFA Between September 2019 and December 2021: Candidate city human rights stakeholder engagement  November 2020: CSHR United 2026 Child Rights consultation 2021-2022: Host City human rights submissions April 2022: The Promise of a Positive Legacy June 2022: 16 host cities announced by FIFA September 2022: CSHR publishes Child RIghts and MSE Toolkit in collaboration with UN Special Representative on VAC and UNICEF September 2022: CSHR confirms four child rights pilot cities 2023: Child Rights pilot city work in NYC/NJ, LA, Toronto, Guadalajara