Houston 2026 Holds First Think Tank On Human Rights
The Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee and the City of Houston Mayor’s Office have hosted a Human Rights Think Tank as the first installment of the Soccer Innovation Institute, which will carry out the city’s legacy vision around the 2026 FIFA World Cup and use the power of soccer to address critical social issues.
The Think Tank focused on the intersection of children’s rights in sports and reduction in gender-based violence.
The discussion was moderated by the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence Minal Patel Davis, who heads the Houston 2026 Human Rights Sub-Committee, and the panellists included Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program Tom Farrey and Director of Public Education Campaigns & Programs at Futures Without Violence Brian O’Connor.
More than 20 local and national stakeholders encompassing local government, non-governmental organisations, corporate social responsibility consultants, service providers and funders, and members of the Houston Harris County Sports Authority were in attendance, underlining Houston’s community-driven spirit that is united together to build a legacy that goes beyond the city.
Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee President Chris Canetti gave opening remarks at the Think Tank and said: “Today’s panel discussion grew out of our efforts since 2019 to develop a robust and substantive Human Rights Strategy as part of our bid to host the World Cup. Child Safety and Women’s Rights were part of the core considerations of our Human Rights Report informed by expert local stakeholders. Today’s discussion takes our efforts one step further as we envision children’s rights in sports and how sports can reduce gender-based violence.”
The Soccer Innovation Institute is focused on three key pillars: Growing the game for all, enhancing the fan experience and impacting social and environmental responsibility. In January, Houston 2026 began an intensive engagement process with more than 100 local, national and international stakeholders and created a 200-page Human Rights Report outlining 73 activities with built-in enforcement mechanisms to enhance human rights in eight areas.