Wednesday, January 27, 2021, WASHINGTON, D.C. — Leading up to Super Bowl LV during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, International Justice Mission (IJM) in partnership with the Hillsborough County Commission on Human Trafficking and its work around Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV, launched an important campaign to address the truth about human trafficking and drive action to combat it.
Like many large-scale sporting events, the Super Bowl is notoriously susceptible to human trafficking. The reality is that human trafficking occurs 365 days a year around the world, and those vulnerable people deserve protection every day, not just around the week of the Super Bowl. Currently there are over 40 million children, women and men being trafficked or trapped in modern-day slavery, making it the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world. The number of people enslaved today would fill every NFL stadium almost 20 times.
Professional athletes who are part of “Team Freedom,” IJM’s pro athlete community, are using their platforms to inspire others to take tangible and impactful action in a campaign around the Super Bowl. The following athletes are serving as the lead team for the campaign and are featured in videos on social media sharing the truth about trafficking:
- Julie Ertz, National Women's Soccer League Midfielder 2x World Cup Champion, U.S. Olympian, 2x U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year (Chicago Red Stars)
- Allyson Felix, Track and Field 9x U.S. Olympic Medalist, 12x World Champion
- Trey Burton, NFL Tight End and Super Bowl LII Champion (Indianapolis Colts)
- Kirk Cousins, NFL Quarterback and 2x Pro Bowl (Minnesota Vikings)
- Zach Ertz, NFL Tight End, 3x Pro Bowl and Super Bowl LII Champion (Philadelphia Eagles)
- Devin McCourty, NFL Defensive Back, 2x Pro Bowl and Super Bowl XLIX, LI, LIII Champion (New England Patriots)
- Jason McCourty, NFL Defensive Back and Super Bowl LIII Champion (New England Patriots)
“IJM brings global leadership in compliment to the work of the Commission, and this campaign adds weight to one of our core pillars – advocacy. IJM shares our DNA in providing boots on the ground 365 days a year in the long fight combatting human trafficking,” said Kimberly Overman, Hillsborough Human Trafficking Commission Chair. “We’re grateful for the leadership they bring to the anti-human trafficking community locally and globally throughout the year.”
“With millions of viewers around the world watching Super Bowl LV, there is a unique opportunity to collaborate with organizations like IJM to educate fans, viewers and the general public about human trafficking that happens every single day of the year globally,” said Dotti Groover-Skipper, Hillsborough Human Trafficking Commission Representative. “We hope that the impact we have today will lead to a safer future tomorrow.”
“These IJM Team Freedom athlete advocates have achieved the most coveted championships and awards in their respective sports succeeding at the highest levels of competition, but they are building another legacy – championing the fight to end human trafficking and slavery through their advocacy,” said Philip Langford, President of IJM U.S. “We are honored and grateful to partner with them to drive tangible action for the long-run.”
“In 2020 alone, IJM Team Freedom players led multi-sport COVID-19 response calls with IJM front line teams, they innovated athlete activation opportunities to shine a critical light on the increase of violence during the global pandemic, and they raised over $3 million this past year alone to continue to send rescue,” said Donald Brown, IJM Team Freedom Director and former NFL running back. “We’re so grateful to this community for standing with us during this IJM Super Bowl LV campaign. Unleashing the global power of sport in the fight to end slavery is proving to be a game changer.”
The reality of human trafficking can be overwhelming, and there is hope – but it’s going to take all of us. Join this team and raise your voice to pledge to end human trafficking by signing your name here: www.ijm.org/letthemhearus.
About International Justice Mission:
International Justice Mission is a global organization that protects people in poverty from violence. IJM partners with local authorities in 21 program offices in 13 countries to combat slavery, violence against women and children, and other forms of abuse against people who are poor. IJM works to rescue and restore victims, hold perpetrators accountable, and help strengthen public justice systems. Learn more at IJM.org.
About IJM’s Team Freedom Program:
Team Freedom, IJM’s team of pro athletes, has partners in the NFL, MLB, NHL, US Soccer, and Olympics who are committed to using the global power and influence of sport in IJM’s work to protect people in poverty from human trafficking, slavery and other forms of violence. Since Team Freedom’s launch in 2014, Team Freedom players and their families have advocated for survivors, traveled internationally to meet with IJM front line teams and brought the work of IJM in front of tens of millions of people. They have also raised significant funds to support the work - in 2020 alone, Team Freedom raised over $3 million.
About Hillsborough Human Trafficking Commission:
In our drive toward ending human trafficking, Hillsborough County convened the Hillsborough County Commission on Human Trafficking (COHT). The COHT is committed to promoting public awareness of the existence of human trafficking within Hillsborough County, in coordination with the broader Tampa Bay region. The Commission on Human Trafficking is committed to:
- Promoting public awareness of the existence of human trafficking within Hillsborough County, in coordination with the broader Tampa Bay region
- Establishing, through relationship building within the community, educational programming opportunities for the public and key industries to recognize the indicators of human trafficking and learn to report suspected human trafficking
- Advocating strategies, financially and otherwise, to aid rescued victims of human trafficking
- Addressing the conditions which create the possibility for human trafficking activity by identifying opportunities for equitable growth
- Supporting local, regional, and statewide efforts to identify opportunities for positive impact and improved outcomes for victims and service providers through data collection, sharing, and analysis