One year to start: Legal head for 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup on acting as GC for major sporting events

From the home of the All Blacks, New Zealand’s top-ranked men’s national rugby team, rugby used to be the sport of choice for Emily Jackson.

But as the legal head for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia-New Zealand 2023, New Zealanders are starting to develop an appreciation for football.

“There seems to be a real base of emotion around it now and a real passion for the women’s sport and women’s football in particular. It has really made me even more excited to work in this role,” she said.

emily jackson
Emily Jackson. Thanks photo.

Jackson is a key part of the squad that will deliver the Women’s World Cup, which will take place in Australia and New Zealand in July and August next year, featuring 32 teams from six continents.

The Sydney-headquartered lawyer and his team of four lawyers have a comprehensive remit that includes managing contracts and implementing hosting documents with various stakeholders, such as stadiums and training venues. His responsibilities also include working on the procurement of suppliers, such as temporary buildings, equipment for training sites, hotels for teams and FIFA staff, and equipment for media and broadcast facilities.

The last Football World Cup is managed by a local football committee, such as the country’s highest football body. But for the first time, FIFA is delivering next year’s event directly through a subsidiary. Jackson and his team are working to build legal processes and develop intellectual property internally that can be used to stage future World Cups.

“It’s an interesting situation where we’re working with one of the best and biggest sports brands in the world, but there are still things they haven’t encountered before so we’re working with them to build an eventing model.” working together,” she said. “It’s complicated and it’s moving fast.”

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Jackson must also ensure that all partners and suppliers meet FIFA standards and requirements for tournaments – such as the pitch, for example. Lawyers also negotiate any deviations from these requirements and act as a bridge between FIFA and stakeholders.

In fact, stakeholder management is one of the major challenges of the role. “It is understanding what the drivers are up to a specific concern and ensuring that FIFA is properly informed and the right solution is found,” she said. “We need to continue working with these people. And the relationship has to be maintained,” she said.

Jackson began his career as a commercial and intellectual property attorney at firms in New Zealand before joining Westpac Bank’s digital, marketing and sponsorship team. It took Cricket Australia three years from that role to exposure to sports sponsorship before being set to attend Expo 2020 in Dubai.

A year ago, she featured in the Women’s World Cup 2023, based on both her sporting and organizing experience.

Working as a general counselor in the game isn’t much different from a GC role elsewhere, Jackson says—”just with a cooler subject matter.” The GC has to deal with corporate obligations, procurement procedures and compliance.

But sometimes there are also very specific, unique areas of work that other organizations do not cover, such as sponsoring or enforcing sports rules. At Cricket Australia, she was involved in negotiations with the players’ union, which was like dealing with any other type of labor union, except that it represented some of the best-known and most admired Australian players.

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Her role with FIFA will end in December 2023, when she will be tied loosely after next year’s tournament.

Jackson said working as an in-house attorney for a specific event with a definite end date for the role isn’t for everyone, but it suits a certain personality type.

“To me, the event or fixed term contract space is very attractive because there is a natural narrative ending to your role and then you can move on to the next opportunity and perhaps the next growth space,” she said.

She also likes the fact that working under a deadline means not experiencing “cyclical malaise” in long-term roles or long-term organizations.

“It’s a small project. You go on. You have a construction phase and a sort of anticipation and excitement builds up. You deliver something wonderful. You rap and then you can move on to something else, “He said.

Jackson says young lawyers should consider working on sporting events and not deviate from fixed-term contracts. The work provides exposure to interesting, broad-based occupations and allows lawyers to develop skills they can take on other employers, she says.

“And it’s also really fun,” she said. “It is really nice to be on the field in matches at event time, to see the emotions of the teams. This is awesome,” she said.

Jackson, who studies law at the University of Auckland on New Zealand’s North Island, is diplomatic when asked which team he will support next year.

“I will support whatever I am playing, which I am most passionate about. I will not have an official position,” she said.

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