PtG Article 13.10.2006

Play the Game suggests global coalition for sports governance

Time has come to form a global coalition for good governance in sport based on the model of WADA. So says Jens Sejer Andersen, director of Play the Game, who launched the idea in a speech at the recent conference “Play Fair with Sport” organised by UEFA and the Council of Europe.

The voluntary sport leader of yesterday has become the power broker and business mogul of today, Andersen believes, but the sports world lack the measures to handle and control such speedily growing fortunes.

Examples of corruption and mismanagement in the world of sport surface every day and can no longer be explained as exceptions to the rule or expressions of individual greed. It is closely related to the way the entire sports system functions, Andersen argues and calls for the formation of a “Global Coalition for Good Governance in Sport.”

This new anti-corruption institution should be run jointly by the International Olympic Committee and the international sport federations, by the United Nations, by governmental organisations like the EU and the European Council, and – as a supplement to the structure known from WADA – should also include representatives of the media, the fan trusts and the sports business side.

The “Global Coalition for Good Governance in Sport” should 

  1. define minimum standards for transparency, accountability and democratic procedures, standards which are to be followed by all national and international sports federations, governments, sponsors
  2. have administrative capacity to monitor that the minimum standards are respected
  3. actively encourage sports leaders and administrators, media professionals, sports researchers and other stakeholders to report irregularities
  4. have a legal mandate and professional expertise to investigate cases of mismanagement and corruption, including the right to search sports offices, archives etc. without prior notice
  5. be equipped with right to issue bans against individuals or groups who violate the global standards and suspend those who are under investigation
  6. be provided with a legal status that enables it to report supposed violations to national or international legal authorities for further trial
  7. regularly communicate its findings to the public through annual reports, conferences etc.

Andersen admits that his proposal for a coalition for good governance in sport might sound unrealistic at the moment.

“But if anyone had suggested founding the World Anti Doping Agency in the spring of 1998, sports federations and governments would also have thought that to be unrealistic,” he says.

The problems of governance in sport are just as serious as doping if not more but Andersen wonders if the world needs to witness a breakdown in sports governance before governments and sports organisations find the inclination to act on the problem.

Meanwhile Play the Game will continue to promote the proposal. First stop is the annual meeting of Transparency International which takes place in Guatemala in November.