Play the Game 2015: Good governance in sport: Setting standards, raising bars

Photo:Thomas Søndergaard/Play the Game

Photo: Thomas Søndergaard


By Play the Game
Play the Game has been a leader in the sports governance debate for almost two decades and will once again gather the world’s most eminent experts, activists, whistle-blowers, journalists, politicians and sports officials.

Good governance is believed to be the key to solving many contemporary challenges to sport. In themselves, transparency and democratic decision-making will not cure all ills. But without good governance, all other cures are bound to fail. Corrupt and mismanaged sports organisations cannot be effective and credible partners in the fight against doping, match-fixing and other kinds of fraud – or deliver growth in physical activity.

With a few exceptions, sports organisations seem unable to reform themselves fundamentally. But will increased pressure from governments help the reformers? Can governments intervene without damaging the freedom of association enjoyed by sports governing bodies?

Partner session with Council of Europe
The Council of Europe (CoE) has decided to engage strongly in the fight for better sports governance. The Council of Europe will set up its own session on how national governments can best influence the governance of their sports federations, and the council will present the results of a survey of the governmental practices.

In the CoE session, representatives from several countries such as Australia, Japan and Montenegro will share their nation’s efforts in stamping out corruption from sports organisations and improving the governance culture. And in the opening session, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Anne Brasseur, will talk about the initiatives the the CoE has launched regarding sports participation as well as sports governance.

How can sports organisations restore public trust?
The IOC is currently in the process of implementing a whole new set of reforms designed to improve its governance and secure the organisation’s viability in a modern society. Pâquerette Girard Zappelli, Chief Ethics and Compliance officer, will be able to share more about what IOC’s ‘Agenda 2020’ has brought about and how the IOC acts on the demands for governance integrity.

The European Union has also pointed a spotlight on the importance of well governed sports organisations and Member of the Cabinet of EU commissioner Tibor Navracsics, Szabolcs Horváth will give the delegates an overview on how the EU takes on that challenge.

Moreover, the investigative journalist Jens Weinreich is expected to qualify the debate by giving an overview of some of the major corruption cases in international sports organisations, while Wilhelm Rauch, head of legal service at the Swiss Federal Office for Sport, will talk about what Switzerland does to ensure that sport federations implement and execute good governance.

Reforming FIFA
Especially FIFA has been in the spotlight for having a culture that has acted insufficiently on governance malpractice, and the world football governing body is in its biggest crisis ever.

At Play the Game, you can meet some of those who would like to have a say in this change. One is Australian businessman Jaimie Fuller, CEO of SKINS, who has taken on an active role in trying to reform FIFA from the outside encouraging sponsors and other stakeholders to stand up for good governance through the initiative ‘New FIFA Now’.

Another approach to reforming FIFA comes from former FIFA secretary general, Jérôme Champagne, who had hoped to be able to change FIFA from within, while Jesper Møller, Head of the Danish FA, will talk about what kind of influence the national federations can exercise in the fight for better governance in football.

Moreover, the theme of FIFA will be illuminated through case stories from FIFA’s confederations. James M. Dorsey, Ezequiel Fernández Moores and Aderonke Ogunleye-Bello will discuss role of the confederation in Asia, South America and Africa, respectively. And having followed the working of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) and its former president, Jack Warner, Lasana Liburd will give delegates insight in Caribbean football.

Launch of the Sports Governance Observer: Who performs the best?
Many initiatives have been set up in order to heighten the focus on this crucial issue. One of these is the Sports Governance Observer (SGO), a new benchmarking tool developed by Play the Game and KU Leuven in co-operation with a number of European partners. The SGO measures how well international sports federations perform on key governance indicators such as transparency, checks and balances, democratic process and solidarity.

Using the SGO, Arnout Geeraert, PhD and Play the Game’s governance analyst, will present and discuss the results of a large survey among 35 international sports federations and the corresponding report in a number of sessions.

More information about Play the Game 2015

Play the Game 2015 takes place in Aarhus, Denmark from 25-29 October at the Marselis Hotel - Aarhus.

More about Play the Game 2015 on the conference website

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