Tools to benchmark and improve governance at all levels of sport
Since 2011, Play the Game has worked with leading academic experts and actors in sport to develop tools to benchmark and develop good governance practices in sports organisations at all levels.
On this theme page, you can find
- an introduction to Play the Game's approach to benchmarking sports governance
- an overview of Play the Game's governance projects in historical order
- link to our theme page about how you can do your own governance benchmarking of international and national sports organisations
- links to all publications from our governance projects
Play the Game's approach to benchmarking sports governance
Play the Game’s projects on benchmarking governance in sports organisations are all based on measuring a number of governance principles via indicators that are either present or not present.
The governance principles address four dimensions of good governance:
- democratic processes
- internal accountability and control
- societal responsibility
Ideally, the researcher who carries out the benchmarking process establishes a relationship with the organisation that is being benchmarked in order to get feedback, obtain further information, and have a dialogue about the findings.
If it is not possible to establish such a relationship, the benchmarking process will be based on publicly available data.
Data gathering process
To ensure reliable data, official partners are required to follow a standardised six-step process when collecting data and to score data using a standardised score sheet.
- Select and contact the organisations that will be benchmarked to get assistance with data gathering.
- Gather data and make a first preliminary scoring based on desktop research of publicly available data.
- Get feedback from the organisation being benchmarked through questionnaires or interviews. Obtain additional evidence.
- Second preliminary scoring based on the feedback.
- Final feedback from the organisations being benchmarked. Obtain outstanding evidence if possible.
- Final scoring including informing the organisations being benchmarked about the result.
Play the Game conducts a basic check of the data gathered by official partners.
This procedure aims to minimise data inconsistencies and errors in measurement and aggregation. It also ensures that data gathering took place in accordance with the standardised process.
Play the Game's governance projects in historical order
Play the Game's research into good governance began with the AGGIS-project in 2012-2013. The project was established through a grant from the European Commission and carried out in cooperation with partners from six European universities. The goal of the project was to create a global index for good governance in sport.
One of the key results of the project was the Sports Governance Observer, a checklist of elements that the experts deemed vital for good governance in international sports federations.
Find all publications from the AGGIS project further down on the theme page.
Learn more about the AGGIS project
After the funding period of the AGGIS project ended, Play the Game worked with Arnout Geeraert from the University of Leuven on developing the Sports Governance Observer into a practical benchmarking tool with a scoring system that can be used to assess the degree of good governance in international sports federations.
A first version of the tool was applied to 35 international sports federations that are represented at the Olympic Winter and Summer Games, and the findings were published in a report from 2015.
The 2015 indicators were later revised, and a new version of the tool builds on 57 principles of good governance measures scored on 309 indicators through a yes or no system.
The new tool has been used to benchmark governance in 11 international sports federations, and the findings have been published in reports from 2018 and 2019 respectively.
The project was funded by Play the Game/The Danish Institute for Sports Studies in cooperation with KU Leuven.
The project is ongoing, and in 2022 Play the Game will benchmark the governance of the Badminton World Federation, Union Cycliste Internationale, World Athletic and the International Biathlon Union.
The new round of benchmarking is funded by Play the Game through a grant from the Danish government to promote good governance in sport.
Find links to all publications from the SGO project further down on this theme page.
Learn more about the SGO project
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.
Find all publications from the NSGO project further down on this theme page.
Learn more about the NSGO project
The National Anti-Doping Governance Observer (NADGO) used the framework of the National Sports Governance Observer project to develop a code of good governance and a tool to evaluate the performance of national anti-doping agencies.
The project received a grant from the EU's Eramus+ programme and was carried out in cooperation with partners from national anti-doping organisations, universities, and athletes' organisations:
From 2019 to 2021, the NADGO tool was used to benchmark 11 national anti-doping agencies, and the findings were published in a concluding report from June 2021.
Find all the publications from the NADGO project further down on this theme page.
Learn more about the NADGO project
Do your own benchmarking
Play the Game has launched two online tools that allow anyone to benchmark an international sports federation or national sports organisation following the principles of our governance observer tools.
Go to our theme page "Do your own benchmarking"
Go directly to the SGO tool