First top speakers confirmed for Play the Game 2019, submission deadline extended

Play the Game 2017. Thomas Søndergaard

The first speakers for Play the Game 2019 in Colorado Springs have been confirmed. Photo: Play the Game 2017 in Eindhoven by Thomas Søndergaard/Play the Game


By Play the Game
Former head of FBI investigation into FIFA among new keynote speakers when Play the Game 2019 comes to Colorado Springs this fall. New deadline for abstracts/storylines is Monday 20 May.

The ongoing criminal investigations into prominent and powerful sports leaders will be one of the key issues on the agenda when Play the Game celebrates the 11th edition of its international conference in Colorado Springs, USA, from 13-16 October.

Among these cases, none has stirred up as much global attention as the huge and complex FBI action against FIFA. It is therefore likely to draw much attention when the head of the FBI action for about seven years, Evan Norris, will share his expertise on investigations into global sports organisations.  

Money was the motivational factor in developing FIFA corruption, but abuse in sport also comes in forms that affect people’s lives more profoundly. Nancy Hogshead-Makar, one of the leading advocates for athlete safety in the USA, is another new name on the Play the Game podium, where she can expect company from survivors and experts in how to prevent sexual abuse in sport.

A conference under the title “Athlete power on the rise” must of course give room for the voices of athletes themselves. As one of the recipients of the Play the Game Award 2017, the exiled Russian runner and whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova, is an obvious speaker, and fortunately, she and her husband Vitaly are for the first time able to join a Play the Game conference in person, since it takes place in their current home country. Previously, their personal situation has forced them to speak via Skype, and only in very short appearances.

Another remarkable voice in the anti-doping debate, the outgoing chair of WADA’s Athlete Committee, Beckie Scott from Canada, has signed up as a speaker, and so has a former WADA director, Robert Koehler, who is now heading the campaigning organisation Global Athlete.

WADA itself has always given priority to sending high-ranking representatives to Play the Game conferences, and there are positive signals this will happen again.

Its founding president, IOC member Richard W. Pound, is a well-known figure in the context of Play the Game, and his Canadian compatriot, Richard H. McLaren, has also played a leading role in anti-doping investigations and other areas of sports law. Both will be joining the Play the Game 2019 speakers list.

“At this early stage of the programme planning, we are happy to offer an exciting mix of old and new names among our speakers, all of high quality,” the international director of Play the Game, Jens Sejer Andersen says.

Some other major names on the speakers’ list that is only starting to build up:

Declan Hill, PhD, professor, University of New Haven

Hajo Seppelt, head of investigative team, ARD

Ivan Miljkovic, former volleyball champion, General Manager, ACPV

Jesper Møller, UEFA ExCo member and president of the Danish FA

Sarah Lewis, secretary general, International Ski Federation

Tom Farrey, journalist, Aspen Institute, USA

In total, at least 120 speakers are expected for the four-day programme. The first deadline for abstract submissions was Tuesday 23 April, and by then 50 abstracts/storylines had been entered.

“It is a satisfying number that lays a solid foundation for the conference programme,” says Jens Sejer Andersen, who nevertheless stresses that the conference has room for more presentations.

Therefore, as in previous years, Play the Game now sets a 2nd deadline for abstract submissions, Monday 20 May. Abstracts and storylines delivered after that deadline will still be reviewed in a rolling procedure, but cannot be guaranteed a timeline for the review nor an optimal place in the programme.

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