PtG

National Sports Governance Observer (NSGO)

The National Sports Governance Observer (NSGO) project is creating a robust framework for improving governance in national sports organisations.

A key component of the NSGO project is the National Sports Governance Observer tool that scores the performance of individual sports organisations on 274 indicators of good governance in four different dimensions:

  • Transparency
  • Democracy
  • Internal accountability and control
  • Societal responsibility

The NSGO tool is continuously applied to new countries.

Find out more about the project

The main aim of the NSGO project is to assist and inspire national sports organisations to raise the quality of their governance practices through benchmarking and dialogue.

More specifically, the project:

  • enables sports leaders and outside stakeholders to measure, discuss and amend the governance standards and practices of sports organisations by adapting and applying the Sports Governance Observer benchmarking tool in national sports organisations.

  • establishes sustainable networks between academics, practitioners and other key stakeholders with a common interest in good governance in sport at a national as well as international level through national training workshops and the Play the Game conference.
    educates and trains sports leaders, researchers, and government representatives to understand, introduce, evaluate, and sustain good governance standards and practices in their respective organisations.

  • provides government officials with knowledge and tools that enable them to engage in dialogue with the sports movement with a view to inspiring better governance in sport and creating a robust framework for sport’s use of public grants.

  • produces, provides and disseminates national as well as comparative international and national data based on the Sports Governance Observer tool and the ‘Sports Governance Observer 2015’ report.

  • initiates public debates on sports governance to a wider public in order to raise the awareness of the topics and challenges related to good governance among athletes, sports volunteers, association leaders, fan groups, sponsors and policy makers, thus enabling them to create more efficient organisations and engage in the debate about decision-making processes in sport.

In 2017, Play the Game along with partners from nine European countries and Brazil received a grant from the EU's Erasmus+ Programme, to create a benchmarking tool that can be used to assess the level of good governance in national sports federations.

The NSGO tool was developed by Arnout Geeraert to produce a picture of 46 good governance principles through 274 yes and no questions.

In the first round of the project, the NSGO tool was applied to sports organisations in Cyprus, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Brazil and Montenegro.

The findings were published in the report “National Sports Governance Observer” authored by Arnout Geeraert in 2018.

After the conclusion of the EU-funded project, Play the Game/Danish Institute for Sports Studies continued the project supported by a special governance grant from the Danish government.

In the second round of the project, the NSGO tool was applied to sports organisations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Georgia, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Lithuania, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Ukraine and the United States of America. 

The findings were published in the report "National Sports Governance Observer 2" edited by Sandy Adam.

Play the Game gives stakeholders from new countries the opportunity to join the NSGO process. The terms for joining as well as the necessary application documents can be found on this page.

Applications including all relevant attachments must be submitted via e-mail to info@playthegame.org

An admission committee under Play the Game will evaluate incoming applications and respond within 21 days of the receipt of the application.

The admission committee will review admissions on the basis of, inter alia, the following criteria:

  • National relevance of the NSGO study
  • Adequate academic expertise
  • Necessary financial resources

Admission of the applicant organisation as an external partner to the NSGO project is subject to the signing of a cooperation agreement by the applicant organisation defining terms and conditions for the cooperation and the specific requirements for the project implementation.

External partners must pay a modest entrance fee as a contribution to Play the Game’s administrative expenses as project coordinators. The fee is calculated according to the country’s status in the World Bank list (from €100 in low-income countries to €1,500 in high-income countries).

Important documents:   

The project has received a 383,000 euro grant from the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union and further support from the Danish Parliament and the Council of Europe.

Do your own benchmarking

Play the Game has launched an online version of the NSGO tool that allows anyone to benchmark a national sports organisation and compare the results with other results from our database.

Go to our theme page "Do your own benchmarking"

Go directly to the NSGO tool

Download reports from the project

Grass. Photo: GettyImages/Jurgita Vaicikeviciene/EyeEm
PtG Publication November 2021
National Sports Governance Observer 2: Benchmarking governance in national sports organisations
Tiny football. Photo: Colourbox
PtG Publication November 2018
National Sports Governance Observer. Final report
Tiny football. Photo: Colourbox
PtG Publication December 2018
National Sports Governance Observer - leaflet
Football hitting the back of the net. Photo: Colourbox
PtG Publication November 2018
National Sports Governance Observer. Indicators and instructions for assessing good governance in national sports federations
Tennis ball hitting the net. Photo: Colourbox
PtG Publication December 2018
National Sports Governance Observer. Country report: Flanders, Belgium
Competitive swimmer. Photo: Colourbox
PtG Publication December 2018
National Sports Governance Observer. Country report: Cyprus
Conference room. Photo: Piotr Popławski
PtG Publication November 2018
National Sports Governance Observer. Country report: Poland
Feet of a gymnast. Photo: Colourbox
PtG Publication September 2018
National Sports Governance Observer. Country report: the Netherlands
Runners. Photo: Colourbox
PtG Publication September 2018
National Sports Governance Observer. Country report: Romania
Man flicking paper. Photo: GettyImages/Daniel Grizelj
PtG Publication November 2017
National sports governance observer. Indicators for good governance in national federations. Preliminary report

News about the NSGO project

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
Tennis court with balls
PtG Article 23.11.2021
New research: National sports federations still need better governance
PtG Article 09.11.2021
Free webinar: Are sports federations fit for society’s demands?
PtG Article 20.11.2019
From Iceland to India: 13 new countries join the National Sports Governance Observer project
PtG Article 15.10.2019
The U.S. questions how to measure good governance in sport

Theme pages about sports governance

PtG Theme

Benchmarking sports governance

Hand hovering over computer keyboard
PtG Theme

Do your own sports governance benchmarking