“How can football clubs demonstrate their respect for human rights and environmental due diligence in the context of the proposed mandatory EU legislation and changes to the UK Modern Slavery Act reporting requirements?”
Participants were invited to share their experiences of challenges in this area with a view to support one and other in responding effectively to current modern slavery legislation and upcoming mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation, as well as considering opportunities for collaboration.
The roundtable built on the previous session ‘Reimagining the Role of Sport’, hosted by Ardea International and SOAS and attended by a number of expert stakeholders, in May 2020.
It was especially promising that the need to strengthen the approach to due diligence is identified as being of increasing importance by the clubs who contributed to the roundtable. This issue is becoming increasingly pertinent to the sports sectors as the Trafficking in Persons 2020 Report notes that “within Europe’s soccer industry alone, it is estimated there are 15,000 human trafficking victims each year”. Many victims are youths. They are lured to Europe by promises of better lives and the opportunity of trials with professional football clubs that may lead to untold riches. Increased media and fan attention have been drawn to the role of sports organisations in relation to human rights in the lead up to the Qatar World Cup 2022. Norway’s football federation has faced pressure from its domestic clubs to consider a boycott of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar over accusations of human rights abuses of migrant workers in the Gulf state. The sports industry has also had to drastically adapt amid a worldwide economic, social and pandemic landscape, further bringing into focus the need to embed respect for human rights and environmental due diligence into their operations.
We had a lively discussion covering a broad range of topics, from the growing power of athlete activism, to risks regarding legal obligations on the horizon, but several key takeaways stood out for us. Firstly, all of the Clubs identified the need to coordinate internal efforts and increase awareness of human rights and modern slavery throughout their organisation. This included ensuring that human rights is a priority issue at board level and is integrated into decision-making across all functions, so it is not just seen as relevant to legal roles.
Secondly, the open conversations between participants also highlighted that the Clubs vary in the extent of the due diligence measures they have in place. All of the clubs said they have strengthened their approach to human rights risks in recent years. Proactive steps to develop their due diligence frameworks included creating or updating their Supplier Code of Conduct, contractual clauses, and supplier risk assessments. Some are still in their infancy and do not feel entirely comfortable that they can ‘know and show’ that they respect human rights. Those who had limited measures in place left the roundtable with key actions in mind to drive the development of their due diligence processes.
It was also clear that whilst all of the Clubs have made a public commitment to address human rights issues linked to their activities, increasing legal and social expectations being placed on all organisations mean that there is a growing need for sports organisations to put a robust due diligence strategy in place. Furthermore, the lack of coordination and leadership from sports governing bodies means that Clubs are being left to their own devices to navigate these issues, emphasising the need for innovative collaborative solutions to the challenges posed by human rights and environmental due diligence.
Want to learn more?
Following on from the roundtable we have launched The Ardea Academy in association with Ride for Freedom which is a comprehensive programme of continuous improvement to support Football Clubs to collaborate in their efforts to address modern slavery and human rights issues.
One of Ardea International’s IEMA accredited training courses, Sports sector: END slavery training online training and support programme, focusses specifically on the issues we discussed. This training and support programme will help adhere to reporting requirements and de-risk supply chains from modern slavery without extensive costs. The programme is delivered through a series of live, online classroom training sessions, facilitated by Colleen Theron, as part of a small group of participants to maximise shared learning practices and who you will be able to network with over the course of 6 weeks.
Ardea International also offers a sports sector-specific package to help organisations identify and meet their legislative requirements. Our support packages are flexibly priced to help organisations identify and meet their legislative requirements.
If you’d like to know more about these programmes, or have any questions, give us a call on: +44 (0) 1273 491423 or drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ride For Freedom holds the mission to utilise the universal appeal and power of cycling to deliver positive social impacts and specifically to raise awareness of modern day slavery. Through its cycling challenges, Freewheel remediation programme and its ant-slavery advocacy, Ride For Freedom speaks to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 8.7 as it actively raises awareness, educates and forges partnerships that contribute “to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour”.
Gordon Miller Gordon@RideForFreedom.org.uk www.RideForFreedom.org.uk #RideForFreedom2021
Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy (CISD) at SOAS University, London is committed to the promotion of excellence in teaching, scholarship and research. Through varied degree programmes and course offerings, as well a range of extra-curricular activities, the Centre’s aim is to deliver cross-disciplinary teaching and learning that combines an understanding of key concepts, theories and debates with effective practical skills training.
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