After a long process of research and writing, UN House Scotland could finally launch its Football and Modern Slavery Report on 23 May.
The Report, titled ‘Football and Modern Slavery: an Investigation into
Scottish and English top-flight Clubs’ Commitment to Tackling a Global Issue’, was presented by Lipa Hussain and Simen Jordsmyr Holm. The pair has been working on the project since October and were delighted to be able to present their findings to the general public.
Lipa told the attendees of how her idea came about nearly a year ago as she was interested in the massive social impact football has and the influence the sport can have in tackling important issues. Given that Simen shares her interests, she asked him to come on board and they partnered throughout the whole process of the project. They both found it a suitable side-project to conduct alongside UN House Scotland’s highly successful Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Conference, which was held at the Scottish Parliament in March this year.
The project on football and modern slavery was an initial investigation into Scottish and English top-flight clubs to tackle the issue. This was done by looking into the clubs’ Modern Slavery Act Statements and seeking to interview the relevant clubs about their modern slavery policies.
During the Launch, Lipa and Simen went through their methodology, which included categorising the clubs in the English Premier League and the Scottish Premiership into whether they had released a Modern Slavery Act Statement or not. They then reached out to the clubs that had released a statement and requested an interview with them, while asking the clubs that had not released a statement about their reasoning behind this.
Lipa and Simen could reveal some thought-provoking findings. Even though all English Premier League clubs had produced a Modern Slavery Act Statement, only one club agreed to be interviewed about their policies. In Scotland, only Celtic had published a statement, which the presenters suggested might be linked to the fact that they are the only Scottish club with an annual turnover high enough to require them to publish such a statement. Except from Ross County, who said they were considering to publish a statement, none of the other Scottish clubs responded to why they did not have any statements.
Following the findings, the presenters admitted that the overall response was disappointing and raised serious questions about the clubs’ actual commitment to combatting modern slavery. Nevertheless, the interview with Everton, the only club who responded to the interview request, provided some interesting insights. For instance, the club has implemented a Five-year Strategy Plan to combat modern slavery, demonstrating a real commitment to making a difference.
Despite the lack of responses, Lipa and Simen concluded that they hoped that their thought-provoking findings can inspire further research by relevant experts on legal compliance and modern slavery. Furthermore, they believe that the Report can create more debate around the issue, emphasising that there needs to be more discussion about British top-flight clubs’ responsibility to tackle modern slavery.