How To Approach ‘ESG Criteria’ When Hosting Major Sports Events

ESG Blocks
Wednesday, 06 April 2022 By Matt Evans , Gino Murugesan

At the launch of the ‘We Love 2023 Tour’ in Paris, Rugby World Cup France 2023 CEO Claude Atcher declared

France 2023 has embraced a vision: to have a positive impact for rugby, the planet and France by delivering a responsible event that addresses the challenges of today and tomorrow. Rugby World Cup 2023 will be more than a sporting event. It will leave a legacy.” (emphasis added) 

His bold statement encapsulates an ever-growing trend in major sporting events (MSEs): what positive impact will an MSE make and leave in the host city, nation or globally?  While legacy and sustainability considerations are nothing new, there has in recent years been a refocusing of the concept around the new trend of ‘ESG’ – namely environmental, social and governance issues. Organisation of MSEs touches upon a plethora of ESG issues including gender / diversity inclusion, human rights, environmental impact and urban redevelopment. 

This article considers the various ways such issues are addressed through the implementation of both explicit and implicit ESG requirements that have been included in MSE bid processes.  Specifically, it looks at:

  1. What ESG criteria are;
  2. The nature and scope of ESG criteria within current bid requirements for the Olympic Games, and the Football and Rugby World Cups; and
  3. Whether there has been meaningful compliance with the criteria. 

Answering these questions will help us understand the evolution in legacy and sustainability requirements for MSEs; the present-day requirements for any nation looking to host an MSE; and whether the requirements are having a lasting impact on ESG issues in the host country.

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Written by

Matt Evans

Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an associate in the disputes, litigation and arbitration department at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP. Matt advises major contractors, utilities and corporates, specialising in construction and engineering, nuclear, utilities, energy and oil and gas.  Matt advises on all forms of dispute resolution including litigation and arbitration.  Matt also advises clients on non-contentious matters and has experience of structuring and negotiating construction and development documents.

Gino Murugesan

Gino Murugesan

Gino Murugesan is a trainee solicitor at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP.

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