We care about sports. Here is why:

Rarely does a topic engage people in such a passionate way as sports. International sporting competitions are among the most anticipated and keenly followed events in the world. Even away from the spotlights, sports can play a significant role in the day-to-day life of anyone who follows, plays or competes in one way or another. Sports move the hearts and minds of millions.

Yet, sports can also negatively impact peoples’ lives. We’ve all heard dreadful stories of workers suffering inhumane conditions and even risking their lives as they rush to meet the deadline to inaugurate a stadium. We’ve learned that vulnerable young athletes can be subject to harassment and abuse in training for the sport they love. We’ve seen women banned from stadiums and athletes barred from competitions based solely on their gender identity. And we’ve witnessed how impunity can prevail when journalists and human rights defenders can be censored, arbitrarily detained or more severely harmed for bringing attention to these issues. 

Sports are exceptionally powerful drivers of change. It is precisely because of that unique influence, and that intrinsic faith that so many of us place in them, that we need global sports organizations to recognize their inherent responsibility to respect human dignity everywhere they operate.

At Shift, we decided to invest in building expertise in sports and human rights precisely because of that duality: on the one hand, because we understand the significant impacts that the sector can have on people’s lives and on the other hand, because we know that there is immense opportunity (and responsibility) in leveraging the passion, excitement and size of this multi-billion-dollar industry to ensure that human dignity is duly respected.

Our Hands-on Expertise

At Shift, our sports and human rights work has focused on strategic collaboration with global governance bodies – including FIFA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) – and their stakeholders such as international advocacy groups, organizations and trade unions. We believe that as standard setters, global sports bodies have the reach, leadership, power and responsibility to provoke cascading change across their industry. For five years now, Shift has offered advisory support to influential sports organizations as they work to meet their responsibility to respect people’s dignity.

In recent years, we’ve also seen increasing interest from global companies wishing to better understand how the events, teams or athletes that they sponsor could connect them to human rights risks and impact and what to do about it.

If you are interested in collaborating with Shift to advance human rights in sports, contact us.

“Whether it is with global sports bodies, sponsors or allies in civil society, we are committed to working side-by-side with our allies to play an objective, critical and transformative role in embedding respect for human rights in sports governance.”

Rachel Davis, Vice President of Shift

Who We’ve Worked With

Click on the arrows to browse through the different partners that we’ve worked with: