News & Events

Mary Harvey Appointed Chief Executive of Centre for Sport and Human Rights

12 December 2018.

The Centre for Sport and Human Rights has appointed Mary Harvey its first chief executive, as international consensus builds around the need for the sports sector to reform and account for its societal impacts.

Harvey is an 8-year veteran of the US Women’s National Soccer team, winning the 1991 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 1996 Olympic Games. After retiring from international football and completing her MBA, she went on to serve in several senior roles in sport governance, including on FIFA’s executive team as its Director of Development, the US Soccer Federation’s Executive Committee, and the United States Olympic Committee’s Athlete Advisory Council.  Recently, she led the development of the groundbreaking human rights strategy for the successful United 2026 Bid to bring the FIFA World Cup to Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

The Centre is an independent organisation with a mission to build capacity, share knowledge, and increase the accountability of international and national sporting organisations on their human rights track records.

Launched in June 2018 and Chaired by Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Geneva-based Centre for Sport and Human Rights is the product of over three years of coalition building facilitated by the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB).

The Centre is backed by 42 organisations from across the world of sport who form its Advisory Council. This includes global sports governing bodies FIFA, the Commonwealth Games Federation, UEFA, the International Paralympic Committee, and Special Olympics, as well as intergovernmental organisations, trade unions, NGOs, and a broad mix of corporate sponsors and broadcasters such as The Coca-Cola Company, BT, ABInBev, Sky, and Visa.

Welcoming the appointment, Mary Robinson, Chair of the Centre, noted:

“I can think of no better leader who has mastery of both the sports industry and human rights agenda. Mary Harvey is deeply experienced in both and will play a crucial role in bridging these two often disparate worlds.”

Mary Harvey commented:

“Sport can unite, inspire, and entertain, but its ability to do this is undermined when harm comes to the athletes playing, workers building, and communities hosting these sports and events. Having been on the inside of sport for many years, my intention is to bring to life another way of working, supporting sports organisations to fundamentally improve their ability to embed respect for human rights throughout their activities. In this way, the Centre will be a powerful enabler toward realising the full positive power of sport.”

John Morrison, Chief Executive of the Institute for Human Rights and Business, added:

“It takes work to ensure complex organisations are not causing harm in their activities and operations. Some leading sporting organisations are starting to show what respect for human rights looks like in practice, but the majority are still not even on the field of play. The Centre, led by Mary Harvey, is here to get them in the game.”

Harvey will officially start in the role in January 2019.

The announcement comes on the eve of the Centre’s third annual Sporting Chance Forum. Hosted this year in Paris at UNESCO on December 12th and 13th and coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Sporting Chance Forum brings together hundreds of leaders from across the sport and human rights communities to assess progress, highlight effective responses to recent impacts, and share strategies for identifying and preventing risks to human rights from happening.

 

Read an exclusive interview with Harvey in the Associated Press as well as further background in the Sport Sustainability Journal.