PtG Article 23.01.2013

Play the Game 2013 returns to Denmark

When the Play the Game conference 2013 opens its doors, it will be in Play the Game’s home town Aarhus, Denmark from 28-31 October 2013. More than 300 experts and stakeholders are expected to join this 8th edition of the world communication conference on sport and society.

When scandals of doping, match-fixing and corruption in sport hit the news and the wide sports public, you can be sure of one thing: Those same challenges to sport have already been scrutinised for years at the Play the Game conferences.

Therefore it will not only be a debate about the current state of world sport but also a peek into sport’s future when Play the Game 2013 opens its doors to international experts and stakeholders at the Helnan Marselis Hotel in Aarhus, Denmark for the eighth Play the Game conference since 1997.

At Play the Game 2013 you can experience top leaders from world sport’s most powerful organisations such as the IOC, FIFA and WADA engage in direct debate with some of their most competent critics among international media professionals, academics and practitioners.

Massive challenges 

“International sport is facing massive challenges and in order to come up with constructive solutions for the future, sport needs to engage in an open dialogue with the surrounding society,” says Jens Sejer Andersen, founder and international director of Play the Game.

“The power holders in world sport have been fighting tooth and nail against this dialogue since Play the Game staged its first conference 16 years ago but within the last couple of years the winds have changed and the organisations have become more forthcoming towards discussing challenges like doping, match-fixing, corruption and declining participation in grass-root sports.”

Aarhus has been chosen as a host for the 2013 conference because the city for years has been expressing interest in becoming ‘home for the homeless questions in sport’, which is how the Play the Game conference describes itself.

Among other things, Aarhus hopes to use the conference to raise the city’s international profile in preparation for its designation as European Capital of Culture 2017.

”I am incredibly glad to be able to welcome the Play the Game conference to Aarhus. It will be exiting to showcase the city and its diverse sports activities to experts from all over the world. These years the international world of sport is facing a series of concrete challenges that call for fresh and innovative solutions. Aarhus has been appointed European Capital of Culture 2017 because we have offered ourselves as a laboratory for the solutions of tomorrow. Sport will be a central part of the year as cultural capital and I am happy that hosting Play the Game 2013 can jump-start the theme 'Rethink' in this important area," says Marc Perera Christensen, alderman for Culture at Aarhus City Council.

Since 2011, Play the Game has been a part of the Danish Institute for Sports Studies (Idan), who already has close links to Aarhus through cooperation with Aarhus University, the Municipality of Aarhus and Sport Aarhus Events. Part of the Play the Game and Idan staff furthermore resides at the Section of Sport Science at Aarhus University.

Aarhus chosen over Turkish city of Izmir

For a long time, the Turkish city of Izmir was first in line as conference host, but when the Turks had troubles securing the necessary guaranties in a time where the country is bidding for the 2020 Olympic Games, the organisers went for a conference on their home soil in Aarhus.

”We are most grateful for the hard work done especially by Tolga Senel and the Sports Council of Izmir (IZVAK) to ensure the arrangement, and we sincerely hope that Izmir will give an application another try in the future. Having said that, we also look forward to returning to Denmark after three conferences abroad.

"Denmark has a unique and valuable tradition for democratic debate in sport. We are not afraid of a good discussion and critical debate, and I am actually quite convinced that the booming sports participation and thriving voluntary sector in Denmark at the moment is very much a result of a very vibrant sports debate in Denmark and a large degree of willingness among Danish sports organisations and authorities to challenge old structures and look for new solutions,” says Henrik H. Brandt, director of Play the Game/Idan.

More than 300 journalists, scientists and sport officials from 30-40 countries are expected to participate in Play the Game 2013. Around 120 out of these will give presentations covering themes such as governance and democracy in sport organisations, doping, grass-root sport, mega-events, corruption, sports journalism, human rights, equal opportunities, match-fixing etc.

However, it is the chance to be a part of setting an important and edgy agenda for sport, more than the number of guests, which makes Peer Kristensen, general manager of Visit Aarhus, pleased that Aarhus was chosen to host the conference.  “We are proud that Play the Game has chosen to hold its conference in Aarhus. It is important for Aarhus to host this type of event in order to constantly evolve the city’s position as organiser of international conferences. Moreover, hosting this conference will contribute to securing Aarhus even more international exposure,” says Peer Kristensen. 

You can take a closer look at the conference venue on the conference website

Additional information about conference themes, how to send in abstracts, prices and more will follow shortly.

For more information and comments contact:Jens Sejer Andersen, international director at Play the Game, phone +45 2071 0701

Henrik H. Brandt, director of the Danish Institute for Sports Studies/Play the Game, phone +45 2921 0972

Marc Perera Christensen, Alderman for Culture, Aarhus City Council, phone +45 8940 2380