With the increased scrutiny on corporate social responsibility and modern slavery compliance across all sectors, football clubs too find themselves under a legal obligation to assess their modern slavery and human trafficking risks. Modern slavery and human trafficking in football can occur in relation to recruitment and in relation to their supply chains.

A football club is a business like any other with complex, often global, supply chains covering various goods, services, material and workers, and therefore, facing the same supply chain issues as all other businesses. Thus, football clubs in are required to report on their steps to ensure modern slavery is not present in their business and supply chains under Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015

Football clubs and other sports attach various risk of modern slavery human rights violation which can include the manufacturing of football and sporting kits, manufacture of the football memorabilia, recruitment of athletes and the construction of stadiums. Many of these areas have complex supply chains which can be difficult to monitor.

The UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Gorup on Sport, Modern Slavery and Human Rights has published an Interim Report on 2019 on the state of human rights in sports. In particular, it has identified health and safety, working conditions and wages, forced labour and child labour as high-risk areas within sports supply chains. It also noted that “all national and international sporting federations domiciled in the UK should ensure that the rights of children are central to their due diligence processes”.

Football clubs also face a public scrutiny as consumers are increasingly aware of human rights abuses taking place in global supply chains. This brings with it an increased pressure for football cubs to ensure they and their suppliers are not engaged in modern slavery and human trafficking, especially considering the reputational implications if abuses were present.

Training for key members of the football clubs’ and business organisation is a requirement under the Modern Slavery Act 2015. CEOs and company directors, HR managers, procurement professionals, safeguarding officers and sustainability managers, should all consider annual training within their organisation of these key issues. Southwell & Partners can provide expert legal advice and training for football clubs on their human rights and modern slavery obligations.