PtG Article 07.02.2024

Investigative journalists Grit Hartmann and Nick Harris receive the Play the Game Award 2024

On the last day of Play the Game 2024, the Play the Game Award was awarded to investigative journalists Nick Harris from the United Kingdom and Grit Hartmann from Germany.

 

The Play the Game Award pays tribute to an individual or a group of persons who in their professional careers or as volunteers in sport have made an outstanding effort to strengthen the basic ethical values of sport.

"This year, we considered numerous candidates and came to the conclusion that is time to honour two outstanding representatives of investigative journalism," said Jens Sejer Andersen, international director of Play the Game in his motivation speech.

Independent journalism is under great pressure from the structural changes in technological platforms, business models and media ownerships.

"But people continue to produce journalism against all odds. It does not make them rich in money, but rich in facing resistance. However, their efforts are indispensable for society to react – politicians, prosecutors, fans, sponsors, athlete groups – and give a proper response to those who practice crime, corruption and abuse," said Andersen.

Harris: A long list of groundbreaking stories

Nick Harris has worked in national newspapers in the UK for the past 28 years including as chief sports news correspondent for The Mail on Sunday. In 2009, he set up a website called sportingintelligence.com and used it for breaking big stories that have won awards and helped change the sporting landscape.

"With decades of unwavering commitment to journalism, he has fearlessly utilised the power of the pen to expose the darker sides of the sports world. He has revealed how a Gulf state secured the hosting rights for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, exposed dubious agents at Blackburn Rovers, and shed light on the astonishing 11 million British pound payout to the owner of the Football Club of Blackpool during a relegation season," said Stanis Elsborg, head of conference at Play the Game.

Harris also revealed the existence of a state-sponsored doping programme in Russia, seven months before that plot corrupted Sochi 2014.

The list continues, and Harris was not deterred even though he has been the target for attacks from fans of British football club Manchester City and hundreds of their social media trolls.

"He just continued to do what he does best: Proper, excellent, and bulletproof journalism. It is our privilege to present the Play the Game Award 2024 to an individual whose dedication and profound journalism has left a lasting mark on many in this room and on the people who really care about making sports a better place," said Elsborg.

Hartmann: Justice for doping victims

The other recipient of the 2024 Play the Game Award, Grit Hartmann, is also a distinguished investigative journalist and author who has worked on a freelance basis for newspapers and television stations in Germany for many years.

She grew up in East Germany where she fought for civil liberties, and her efforts in civil rights journalism led her to uncover how the regime was doping children with steroids, growth hormones and other powerful drugs without the knowledge and acceptance of the children and their families. She published a book titled 'Goldkinder' that also described these doping practices and the abuse of children,

"This led her from journalism to activism because she took the initiative to help with founding a national association for doping victims that later succeeded in its campaign for compensation for the harm done to them," Andersen said.

Her international reputation started in 2012 when she uncovered not only the corruption in the International Weightlifting Federation but also how the IOC and CAS dismissed the allegations and managed to silence it for another 7-8 years.

In the past few years, Grit Hartmann has worked closely with MEP Viola von Cramon and Play the Game on issues of integrity:

"The report on the Court of Arbitration of Sport she made for us in 2021, and the report she produced for MEP Viola von Cramon on a World Anti-Corruption Agency in sport testifies to her huge knowledge, meticulous research and capacity to make sharp and detailed analysis. We are lucky to have her assistance in our ClearingSport project," said Andersen.

The Play the Game Award consists of a piece of art and a speaker’s invitation including free travel, accommodation, and board for the next Play the Game conference.

 

Watch the award presentation and acceptance speech

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