PtG Article 14.10.2019

Will the Sports Governance Observer bring changes to world sport?

The latest edition of Play the Game’s Sports Governance Observer could lead to some changes at the International Ski Federation. The benchmarking tool was up for debate at Play the Game 2019.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) came second out of six federations reviewed in the latest edition of Play the Game’s Sports Governance Observer with a score of 74% and scored high on transparency but fared less well in how officials are elected.

Speaking at Play the Game, FIS Secretary General, Sarah Lewis, praised the SGO as ‘extremely professional’ and added: "If we haven’t done well in certain areas, we need to take some decisions.”

A total of six federations were reviewed in the latest edition of the SGO and the results show improvements are being made.

Christina Friis Johansen, International policy advisor at Play the Game and the Danish Institute for Sports Studies, said: “There has definitely been an improvement in governance in recent years. There is more separation of powers. Some federations have improved in monitoring.”

“Most importantly, publication of documents has improved since we started. Transparency has improved, but almost none of the federations do risk assessments on corruption risks. That’s an area we identified for improvement,” she said.

Questions and clarifications sent to the governing bodies and the FIS went through two rounds of answers before coming out second behind the international equestrian body, the FEI.

Still improvements to be made

The International Biathlon Union (IBU) fared the worst with an overall index rating of just 39% but did respond to questions. “The IBU have engaged seriously in the reform process.,” noted Johansen. “That should be noted and they were helpful in the process.”

In contrast, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) declined to take part and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), and the European Volleyball Confederation (CEV), did not even respond. The conference heard contrasting examples of governance from both volleyball and ice hockey.

“[Volleyball] does not need to respond, because in that way we are always the best,” Ivan Miljkovic, general manager at the Association de Clubs Professionals de Volleyball (ACPV), joked bitterly.

In a presentation on the position of stakeholders in European volleyball, Ivan Miljkovic described the position of the clubs as absurd. He said: “The clubs are the entrepreneurs of our sport, but they almost do not exist.”

“There are the people who are crazy enough to put money into a club knowing they will not see the money back. The situation is that the clubs, leagues and players are not recognised anywhere [...]There is a big competition between the clubs and national teams fighting for the calendar. People go to meetings representing both the clubs and the national teams and of course they give more time to the national team.”

Miljkovic claimed that the CEV will not even speak to the clubs. The ACPV have submitted a statement of objection to the European Court to try and bring all parties together for discussions. Instead, the CEV has decided to create its own club’s organisation.

“At this moment, we don’t even know how this new association will be included in the European Volleyball Confederation or how appointments will be made,” Miljkovic added.

Despite ignoring the SGO, the IIHF is trying to reform said Professor Mike McNamee from Swansea University, who detailed his work with colleague Gareth Parry to bring about reforms in ice hockey governance.

“We did this research in the context of organisational change from within,” said McNamee, whose work included tackling the introduction of a code of ethics.

“The code of ethics was a safety net in case something went wrong. They had a simple view of ethics: it only mattered when you go onto the ice. After that, it didn’t matter. It was quite bizarre.”

Even more bizarre was the dirty tricks detailed by Jakob Færch, a board director at the Danish Surfing & Rafting Federation, in a presentation on how some sports federations vie for control in inclusion in the Olympics.

Wave surfing makes its Olympics debut next year in Tokyo, but the discipline of standup paddleboard racing is being held up due to a bitter wrangle between the International Canoe Federation and the International Surfing Association over control of the sport.

The case has gone to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but standup paddleboard cannot appear until at least the Los Angeles Olympics of 2028 in another illustration of how governance holds back sport rather than helping it develop.

Other news from Play the Game 2019

PtG Article 20.02.2020
Massive backing from participants to the first Play the Game conference outside Europe
Erin Willson
PtG Article 25.10.2019
The struggle for safe sport in Canada: one step forward, two steps back
Anas Anas presenting at conference
PtG Article 24.10.2019
Sports betting: What are the odds on a fix?
Nikki Dryden
PtG Article 16.10.2019
Athlete activism: defending the right to protest
Conference speakers
PtG Article 16.10.2019
The great doping battle
Nancy Hogshead-Makar
PtG Article 16.10.2019
Nancy Hogshead-Makar receives the Play the Game Award 2019
PtG Article 16.10.2019
Play the Game 2019 on tour to USOPC training hub
PtG Article 16.10.2019
NCAA must strive to benefit student athletes
PtG Comment 16.10.2019
IAAF shares viewpoints on Semenya after Play the Game 2019 debate
PtG Comment 16.10.2019
Open letter to IOC President Thomas Bach from athlete organisations
PtG Article 15.10.2019
What it means to blow the whistle
PtG Article 15.10.2019
The role of team doctors in professional sport
PtG Article 15.10.2019
Tackling threats to grassroots sport
PtG Article 15.10.2019
Broken Trust premieres at Play the Game 2019
PtG Article 15.10.2019
The U.S. questions how to measure good governance in sport
PtG Article 15.10.2019
Whistleblowing: Minimising the risks
PtG Article 15.10.2019
Doping decisions: In pursuit of uniform sentencing
PtG Article 14.10.2019
Interview with David Howman
PtG Article 14.10.2019
Interview with Linda Helleland
PtG Article 14.10.2019
Athletes must be heard
PtG Article 14.10.2019
Good Governance: Just another buzz phrase?
PtG Comment 14.10.2019
New standards of sports governance: When will sport join the modern world in embracing democracy?
PtG Comment 14.10.2019
Good governance – the new sport mantra
PtG Article 13.10.2019
Sport: A safe haven for athletes?
PtG Article 13.10.2019
Interview with Yuliya and Vitaly Stepanov
PtG Article 13.10.2019
Russian whistleblower: “The fight is not over yet”
PtG Article 13.10.2019
Athletes' voices: breakthrough or breakdown?
PtG Article 13.10.2019
Time’s up: Athlete power on the rise!
PtG Comment 13.10.2019
Athlete activism: An omen for sport in the 2020's?
Børn spiller fodbold
PtG Article 08.10.2019
The global challenge of growing sports

Related articles

Nasser Al-Khelaifi
PtG Analysis 12.06.2024
EURO 2024: Meet the man that secures Qatar’s grip on European football
Football player and data scout
PtG Article 29.02.2024
Welcome to Curaçao: How a Caribbean island facilitates the illegal betting boom
Travis Tygart
PtG Article 07.02.2024
US anti-doping director: There is an incredible need for an anti-crime agency in sport
Brian Wesaala
PtG Article 06.02.2024
The Global South could be the key to changing poor sports governance nationally and internationally
Jens Sejer Andersen and Lars Jørgensen
PtG Article 05.02.2024
Doping, corruption and athletes' rights: Play the Game anniversary book revisits key sports political debates
Claudia Villa
PtG Article 31.01.2024
Meet the speakers: "Ideally, safeguarding should be integrated into all phases of mega sporting events"
Football player and data scout
PtG Article 30.01.2024
Meet the hydras: tracing the illegal gambling operators that sponsor football
Fan protesting corruption
PtG Article 26.01.2024
Divided views on whether sports organisations should be part of an agency to combat crime in sport
PtG Article 17.01.2024
A match made in heaven: The explosion of betting ads in European football
Data scout and football player
PtG Article 18.12.2023
Introducing the sports betting data supply chain and the predatory integrity industry
Saudi Arabia
PtG Article 01.11.2023
The power players behind Saudi Arabia's sports strategy
Runners hugging
PtG Article 20.09.2023
New SAPIS report highlights that many athletes still lack influence and points to ways forward for better athlete representation
Spanish women futsal players
PtG Article 28.08.2023
Pioneers share success stories about athlete influence at SAPIS conference
Runners
PtG Article 19.06.2023
SAPIS project launches good practice guide to strengthen athletes’ power in sport
FBI raids CONCACAF
PtG Article 08.06.2023
ClearingSport: Almost 200 experts call for an agency against corruption and crime in world sport
PtG Article 10.03.2023
Spree of buying clubs threatens football integrity
PtG Opinion 23.01.2023
Match-fixing in handball: A reminder of the need for a World Anti-Corruption Agency
Ivo Ferriani and Thomas Bach
PtG Article 18.11.2022
World sports federations may give up their own independent platform
Viola von Cramon
PtG Article 28.09.2022
Member of European Parliament launches call for a world anti-corruption agency for sport
Drago Kos at Play the Game 2022
PtG Article 04.07.2022
Play the Game may be the correct forum to develop a sports anti-corruption agency
Panel
PtG Article 04.07.2022
Many nations lack the will and resources to implement governance reforms
minister for culture
PtG Comment 30.06.2022
Sportswashing is a deep contradiction of the core values of sport
Presenter
PtG Article 29.06.2022
External oversight key to athlete trust in abuse and violence investigations
Panel at conference
PtG Article 29.06.2022
Reports of abuse of athletes continue to emerge across the globe
Panel at Play the Game 2022.
PtG Article 27.06.2022
Russian sanctions unlikely to herald a new era of accountability
Man presenting at conference
PtG Article 27.06.2022
Saudi Arabia is filling the vacuum after Russia in a year of sportswashing
Speakers
PtG Article 27.06.2022
Play the Game 2022 opens with a call to remove Belarussian sports officials
Photo: GettyImages/Matt Roberts.
PtG Article 10.06.2022
New book presents urgent call to listen to athletes in modern pentathlon
Andrew Jennings
PtG Article 24.03.2022
'Sport & Politics’ publishes a special magazine about Andrew Jennings
Thomas Bach and Vladimir Putin
PtG Comment 02.03.2022
The coalition of Olympic perpetrators
Fans criticising owners of football club
PtG Article 01.02.2022
Few European countries have plans for regulating football club ownership
Hassan Moustafa
PtG Article 24.01.2022
New research: Alternative voting systems may lead to better governance in sport
Andrew Jennings on podium
PtG Article 10.01.2022
Andrew Jennings (1943-2022), the incomparable
PtG Article 17.12.2021
With the old guard down the rabbit hole
PtG Article 09.12.2021
Playing with dictators behind closed doors: Athletes pay the price
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya
PtG Article 30.11.2021
A vote of no confidence in the Court of Arbitration for Sport
PtG Article 26.11.2021
Utrecht University publishes free book on sports governance
Putin and Infantino at a football stadium
PtG Opinion 26.11.2021
The work of improving sports governance has just begun
PtG Article 25.11.2021
Head of NOC: Sports federations need more demands from society
Hand over computer keyboard
PtG Article 23.11.2021
Play the Game launches online versions of governance benchmarking tools