History of the NSGO project

The National Sports Governance Observer (NSGO) project is based on two previous projects in the field of benchmarking sports governance.

In 2012-2013 Play the Game/Danish Institute for Sports Studies partnered with six European universities (Loughborough University, Utrecht University, KU Leuven, German Sport University Cologne, IDHEAP Lausanne and Ljubljana University)  and the European Journalism Centre to research the state of governance in international sports organisations.

The partners worked together in the project  ‘Action for Good Governance in International Sports Organisations’ (AGGIS) supported by a grant from the European Commission under the framework of the EU Preparatory Actions in the field of sport.

AGGIS provided a theoretical foundation and empirical evidence for a tool for benchmarking governance standards in international sports federations. 

The work was continued in the following years by Play the Game/Danish Institute for Sports Studies and KU Leuven where Dr. Arnout Geeraert from KU Leuven developed the tool by adjusting the indicators and adding a grading system for each indicator.

In 2015, Arnout Geeraert authored the first ‘Sports Governance Observer’ study which was a comprehensive and independent analysis of international sports governance in 35 international Olympic federations.

In 2017, Play the Game/Danish Institute for Sports Studies received funding from the Danish Parliament as well as a grant worth 383,000 euros from the EU’s Erasmus+ programme to develop and apply the benchmarking tool at the level of national sports organisations.

The project was carried out in cooperation with expert academics from six countries and sport leaders in Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and Romania.

The NSGO tool was adjusted to produce a picture of 46 good governance principles through 274 yes and no questions, and in 2018  the findings from that project was published in the report “National Sports Governance Observer” authored by Arnout Geeraert.

The report included data from Cyprus, Denmark, Flanders (Belgium), Germany, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, and Brazil.

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

In the period from 2019 to 2021, a second round of the NSGO benchmarking process has also been carried out in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Georgia, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Lithuania, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Ukraine, and the USA and published in the report xxxx in November 2021.

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