PtG Article 27.02.2008

European breakthrough for Play the Game

Applicants from the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain vie to host Play the Game in 2009.

After a successful conference in Iceland last autumn, the sports debate institution Play the Game is experiencing a new breakthrough. For the first time, it is necessary to hold a selection round to find the host city for the sixth Play the Game conference, which will be held in 2009. The conference is known as the only international meeting-place where sport’s top leaders and their sharpest critics meet for open debate on corruption, match-fixing, the fight against doping and other challenges to sport. When the deadline for submitting expressions of interest passed last week, bids were received from three candidates in the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain respectively. The British bid comes from Coventry University and its Centre for the International Business of Sport, which suggests the local football stadium, the Ricoh Arena, as the setting for the conference. From Germany, Sportnetzwerk is applying. Sportnetzwerk is a network of sports journalists and researchers who, taking inspiration from Play the Game, have just carried out two large symposiums on sports politics and would now like to stage next year’s conference in Berlin. Finally, the Spanish sports organisation Blume, which each year arranges an international gymnastics and sports festival, has applied to bring Play the Game to Gran Canaria. “The three applicants and the many enquiries we have received shows a broad international backing for Play the Game’s work to create a free sports debate and make sport more open, ethical and democratic,” says board chairman Jens Brinch. Other interest had also been shown in the past months by organisations and cities in Norway, the Netherlands and Germany. At this time, Play the Game is applying to the Danish Parliament to be included in the budget act and Jens Brinch hopes that the international interest will help push politicians along the road with their decision “We have now taken an important step in the direction of creating a broad European ownership behind Play the Game, but before we reach this goal, we have need for back-up on the home front in the next year and we hope the government and parliament will fund our partnership with Danish sport.” By 1 June, Play the Game expects to have chosen a host city, which can look forward to receiving between 300 – 400 journalists, researchers and sports leaders from all corners of the world “It is interesting to see that the three applicants reflect the mix of target groups that come together to make Play the Game into such a unique conference internationally,” says Jens Brinch.