PtG Article 25.06.2008

Sport and development conference forced to cancel after loss of funding

Organisers of the unique international Magglingen Conference on Sport and Development have been forced to cancel the event after its key funder has pulled out. Director of Play the Game, Jens Sejer Andersen, calls it a major setback and encourages  international sports federations to come up with new funding as proof of their commitment to sport and development.

In 2005, over 400 participants from 70 countries gathered for the second Magglingen Conference in Switzerland to share ideas about how sport can be used for purposes of promoting health, education, peace and development (see website: A third conference was planned for the end of 2008 but has now been cancelled after  the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) decided not to fund the conference.

“SDC is in the process of major restructuring following the appointment of a new Director-General. SDC’s strategies and priority areas are being reconsidered and redefined, and as a result SDC has gone back on its decision to finance the Magglingen Conference,” organisers explain in an e-mail sent to members of the sport and development community.

A major setback

The first and second Magglingen Conferences in 2003 and 2005 respectively gathered NGOs, grassroots sport leaders, officials from the UN and sports federations and politicians to discuss sport and development.

Jens Sejer Andersen, director of Play the Game, took part in both Magglingen Conferences, and he feels that the cancellation of the planned third Magglingen Conference is a major setback for all those activists and sport leaders worldwide who work on the ground to use sport as a tool for personal, community and national development.

“Magglingen gave grassroots sport leaders an opportunity to showcase what they could accomplish, and to meet leaders from the UN, sports federations and other top executives in world sport.

On both occasions the debates were more engaged and visionary, but at the same time more realistic and truthful than is often the case at international sport gatherings,” Andersen says.

Organisers of the conference are currently looking for new funders and hope to be able to organise another conference in Magglingen in the not too distant future. Play the Game’s director believes that funding a Magglingen conference on sport and development would be an obvious task for some of the major international sports federations.

“It would be a great opportunity for the IOC and the richest international federations to step in with financial support and show that their praise of sport and development are not empty words,” Andersen says.