PtG Article 14.03.2017

Hands on, hands off? Politicians and sports leaders will debate better governance in public hearing

Around 30 European parliamentarians will join sports leaders to discuss how to fight corruption in sport. This will happen at a public hearing in Aarhus, Denmark, organised by PACE together with Play the Game.

Over the past decade, numerous scandals have eroded the public trust in international sports organisations. The need for sports reform has become urgent, but who should take the lead?

Some argue sports organisations should be left alone to change their governance as they deem necessary. Others claim that politicians must take action from the outside: without external monitoring and control corruption and mismanagement will continue as always.

How to ensure that public money invested in sport is used correctly? How to avoid abuse of the efforts done by athletes? Can sport be controlled without endangering association freedom? Are parliamentarians more credible than sports leaders in reforming sport?

These are some of the questions addressed at the public hearing organised jointly by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and Play the Game in the afternoon of Monday, 3 April 2017 (2-6 pm) at Aarhus City Hall.

The hearing will bring forward a variety of viewpoints and stakeholders, including sports leaders responsible for carrying out reforms on the inside of sport, journalists who have struggled to expose wrongdoing, experts who bring data and facts into the debate – and politicians who must now decide if laws should be tightened and sport come under increased public control.

Among the speakers are Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Francesco Ricci Bitti, President of ASOIF and the SportAccord Convention, Pâquerette Girard Zappelli, Chief Ethics and Compliance Office, IOC, Dr. Arnout Geeraert, author of the Sports Governance Observer report 2015, Harri Syväsalmi, Director at the Finnish Centre for Sports Integrity a long with a number of prominent sports officials and politicians who will all speak under the headline:

“Hands on, hands off? The role of politicians in reforming sports governance”

Some of the questions that will be addressed will be how to ensure correct use of public money invested in sports, how to avoid the abuse of athletes’ efforts, how to control sport without compromising association freedom – and whether parliamentarians more credible than sports leaders in reforming sport?

(updated 3 April)

Panel 1: International sports governance: dreams and realities

  • Pâquerette Girard Zappelli, Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, International Olympic Committee (IOC), Lausanne, Switzerland

  • Arnout Geeraert, PhD, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium; author of the Sports Governance Observer 2015 report and scientific coordinator

Panel 2: Breaking the silence, opening doors

  • Jean-Yves Lourguilloux, Deputy Financial Public Prosecutor, French Natonal Finances Prosecution Office
  • Michael J. Hershman, ICSS Group CEO

Panel 3: Sports autonomy: where are the limits?

  • Niels Nygaard, President of the National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark (DIF) and Board Member of European Olympic Committees
  • Simon Morton, Chief Operating Officer, UK Sport, England
  • Stanislas Frossard, Executive Secretary, Enlarged Partial Agreement of Sport, Council of Europe

Panel 4: Common ground on burning platforms

  • Francesco Ricci Bitti, President of The Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) and President of SportAccord Convention, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Harri Syväsalmi, Director, Finnish Centre for Integrity in Sports
  • Brian Cookson, President, UCI, Switzerland

The hearing is open to the public and free to attend, but if you are interested in taking part it will be helpful to get an indication of your interest in a mail to our Conference Manager Maria Suurballe

More information

Public hearing:

“Hands on, hands off? The role of politicians in reforming sports governance”

14.00-18.00, 3 April 2017Aarhus City Hall, Denmark

Download a detailed programme(updated 3 April)

Download speakers' biographies