Top figures from sport's global conflict zones meet in Eindhoven
The international anti-doping crisis, the widespread sports corruption, the increasing number of revelations of sexual abuse cases and other controversial issues will be debated by almost 200 leading experts and sports leaders when the 10th edition of the Play the Game conference comes to the Netherlands.
The head of Qatar’s controversial World Cup 2022 prepared to discuss all sensitive questions. State prosecutors sharing their knowledge on suspected crime among Olympic top leaders. A former football world champion reporting the challenges Brazil inherited from the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. And a big group of top leaders from world sport bringing their ideas about how to find solutions in a time of deep credibility crisis.
The scene is set for remarkable encounters in the politics of world sport, when Eindhoven hosts Play the Game 2017 from 26-30 November. More than 400 media people, sports officials and academic experts are expected to join this 10th edition of the conference, and almost half of them will actively share their knowledge and experience from the podium at the Van der Valk Hotel.
It is a 100,000€ grant from the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport that has enabled the Denmark-based Play the Game-conference to come to the Netherlands. Previous editions have been held in the United Kingdom, Germany, Iceland and Denmark.
“Every day brings new evidence that world sport needs more democracy, transparency and freedom of expression, and we are most grateful that the Dutch government shares and supports these goals,” says international director of Play the Game, Jens Sejer Andersen.
Eindhoven is chosen as host city because of its pioneer work in sports innovation. New technologies are rapidly changing the sports landscape both at the elite and grass-roots level. The international guests will visit and play at some of Eindhoven’s innovative arenas, and Play the Game will close the four conference days with a look into the future of e-sports.
E-sport is a rapidly growing industry and leisure activity, and it raises new questions about what the essence of sport is and how its integrity can be protected.
As soon as the official opening speeches are over, Play the Game 2017 will jump right into one of the most heated matters on the international agenda: The doping scandals affecting Russian and international sport. The President of the World Anti-Doping Agency Sir Craig Reedie will answer to the call for fundamental reform, and later, high level representatives of USADA, the IOC, and athletes’ organisations will add their proposals for change.
From one controversy, the conference goes directly to another: Hassan Al-Thawadi, the Secretary General of the Qatar 2022 organising committee, has accepted to speak and discuss all the sensitive issues that are related to the kingdom’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup.
But Qatar 2022 is not the only mega-event that is looked upon by the public with some scepticism. Also the Sochi and Rio Olympics, and the future Olympics in Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 will be discussed by experts, journalists and activists. Among the main speakers is Raí Oliveira, captain of the Brazilian national football team that won the World Cup in 1994. Today, Raí is president of Athletes for Brazil, a group of former elite athletes fighting for social and democratic progress in their home country.
In Eindhoven, Play the Game 2017 will stand on two legs: One is the fight against organised crime in sport, sexual abuse, corruption in FIFA and other organizations, and the other is the fight for better policies for grass-root sport and technological innovation to benefit all people in society.
Other top names coming to Eindhoven are:
- Richard W. Pound, former WADA President and longest serving IOC member
- Francesco Ricci Bitti, president of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations
- David Howman, head of the Athletics Integrity Unit in world athletics
- Minky Worden, Director of Global Initiatives, Human Rights Watch
- Hans-Joachim Eckert, former head of FIFA’s Ethics Committee
- Richard H. McLaren, law professor and author of WADA reports on Russian doping
- Hajo Seppelt, investigative journalist ARD/WRD
- Michael van Praag, President of the Dutch FA (KNVB) and member of UEFA’s Executive Committee
- Declan Hill, PhD and investigative journalist