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Big sports events force many from homes - expert

Published:Tuesday | March 9, 2010 | 12:00 AM


Numerous people have complained of being forced from their homes or priced out of the housing market as a result of large events such as the World Cup and the Olympic Games, a UN human rights investigator said yesterday.

Raquel Rolnik cited reports that more than 20,000 residents were being moved from a makeshift settlement near Cape Town to impoverished areas at the edge of the city before the June-July World Cup in South Africa.

Rolnik, an independent investigator appointed by the UN. Human Rights Council, criticised soccer's (football's) world governing body, FIFA, for failing to ensure that cities staging the World Cup explicitly commit to protecting housing rights.

Unlike the International Olympic Committee (IOC), FIFA hasn't responded to repeated demands to make housing rights a key part of the bidding process for hosting the event, she told reporters in Geneva.

"It's a much less transparent and clear process of bidding and selecting, as compared to the Olympic Committee," she said.

She praised Chicago for being the first city to pledge not to evict any people from their home when it bid - unsuccessfully - to host the 2016 Olympic Games.

Rolnik said she and her predecessor had tried unsuccessfully to meet with representatives of FIFA, the Zurich-based soccer body, to discuss protecting housing rights as part of World Cup bids.

"FIFA never answered any of our letters, any of our requests to have meetings," she said.

FIFA didn't immediately respond to an Associated Press request for comment.