Briefing reviews measures taken by sponsors of the Swedish Football Association to address human rights risks associated with 2018 FIFA World Cup

Swedwatch's latest briefing "The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia: Sponsorship and human rights" focuses on the role of corporate sponsors in addressing human rights risks associated with major sporting events. It highlights measures taken by sponsors of the Swedish Football Association (SvFF) and reviews developments since the last studies conducted in 2014. The report notes improvements in efforts to manage human rights risks, most notably, all companies that took part in the study’s survey have adopted human rights policies that extend to their sports sponsorships. In 2014, none of the then investigated companies had such policies in place. However, the briefing concludes that there remains a gap between policy and practice. Swedwatch calls on sponsors to act on human rights impacts, for example through encouraging sports associations to raise the identified human rights impacts with its international counterparts.

Swedwatch approached 13 corporate sponsors, of which seven chose to reply and are included in the report. The report is available below.

 

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Article
12 June 2018

Sponsors must act on human rights risks

Author: Swedwatch

Swedwatch’s latest briefing reviews measures taken by sponsors of the Swedish Football Association (SvFF) to address human rights risks associated with the 2018 FIFA World Cup. It argues that when a company enters a sponsorship agreement with a national sports association, the championships that the national teams play in become part of that company’s value chain. Thus, as stated in the United Nations Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), corporate sponsors have a responsibility to address associated human rights risks and impacts.

The briefing reviews developments since Swedwatch previous studies conducted in 2014, and notes improvements in efforts to manage human rights risks among Swedish sponsors. Most notably, all companies that took part in the study’s survey have adopted human rights policies that extend to their sports sponsorships. Research findings in 2014, showed that none of the then investigated companies had such policies in place.

However, [...] the briefing points to considerable gaps between policy and practice, especially with regards to sponsors using their leverage over SvFF to prevent and mitigate specific human rights impacts.

The briefing recommends that all corporate sponsors [...] should also act on these findings, for example through encouraging sports associations to raise the identified human rights impacts with its international counterparts.

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Report
12 June 2018

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia: Sponsorship and human rights

Author: Swedwatch

This briefing paper outlines what steps [...] the corporate sponsors of the Swedish Football Association (SvFF) have taken to act on their responsibility to respect human rights. However, conclusions and recommendations can be applied also to international sponsors of sports organizations...

The main sponsor is the state-owned gambling company Svenska Spel. Adidas is the official sports-equipment supplier, and the other corporate partners are Coca-Cola, Folksam, Ica, Intersport, Scandic, Sportbladet, Swedbank,Volvo Car Sweden, Carlsberg, Fabege and SJ. Exclusive suppliers and other partners are not included in the study.*

While an in-depth analysis of how each of the surveyed companies is managing the human rights risks connected to their sport sponsorships is beyond the scope of this briefing paper, many lessons can be learned from analysing the information provided by the companies...

[A]ll seven companies that agreed to participate in the study [...] have implemented policies and/or codes of conduct for human rights, including in relation to their sport sponsorships...

[E]ven the most ambitious and comprehensive risk analysis and mapping must lead to action. If a company identifies adverse impacts on human rights, it should be able to show that it has raised these issues with its business partner in order to prevent or mitigate these impacts...

[T]he sponsors should [...] act on the findings by putting pressure on SvFF to prevent and mitigate these impacts, ideally by collaborating with other sponsors.

*Note: Only those that responded are included in the report.

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