Report examines corruption in sport

Photo: Transparency International book cover

Section of the cover of Transparency International's report on corruption in sport.


By Stine Alvad
Integrity building in sport must be accelerated, says Transparency International (TI) in their latest ‘Global Corruption Report’, which this year focuses on sport, and provides a long range of recommendations for approaches to reforming sport.

Transparency International’s Global Corruption Report this year focuses on corruption in sport and is a compilation of more than 60 articles, analyses and essays that all together cover six areas in sport: Governance, transparency, U.S. college sport, mega-events, match-fixing and participation. The report is the result of a year-long process of TI looking into how sport has become a sector in which corruption seems to thrive and how this corruption can be combatted. 

For too long, sport has operated without any effective external oversight, something that has made sport an ‘insular’ environment resistant to self-incrimination and change, says editor of the report, Gareth Sweeney, in the executive summary introducing the 360-pages report that discusses different aspects of corruption in sport. Among the more than 60 contributors are leading experts, researchers, sports officials, politicians, journalists, athletes and other stakeholders in sport.

According to TI, many of the solutions to how corruption in sport can be combatted go through an improved governance of sports organisations, from national to international.

“[The report] focuses on current challenges in sports governance as the gateway through which all other forms of corruption in sport take hold,” says Sweeney in the executive summary.

Based on the analyses presented throughout the report, TI offers several recommendations that sport should take into account in the process of reforming itself out of fraudulent practices. 

“Transparency International calls for these recommendations to be applied to all international sports organisations, particularly those facing corruption scandals such as the IAAF in athletics. It will also use them as a checklist for FIFA reform in the first 100 days under its new president to be elected on 26 February,” it says in a press release.

In terms of governance, TI recommends that the presidents of international sport federations are elected by open vote, have fixed terms and go through obligatory integrity checks.

There should be transparency regarding the federations’ finances e.g. publishing information on expenses, revenues, remuneration of executive salaries etc. TI also recommends that independent units be established within the different sports organisations to provide oversight of various decisions and that the gender balance in a sport governing body reflects the balance among participants of the sport.

Incorporate Sports Governance Observer in annual reports
Sport organisations should adopt the use of benchmarking tools such as Play the Game’s Sports Governance Observer or BIBGIS in order to be able to measure progress and the results should be published in the organisations’ annual reports, says TI also recommending the establishment of an independent global anti-corruption unit.

Moreover, Ti recommends that states ratify the Council of Europe’s Convention against the Manipulation of Sports Competition and that independent and confidential whistleblower systems are set up. 

Like governance, mega-events are also seen as an area that has multiple entry points for corruption and TI has no less than 13 recommendations for how to ensure more integrity regarding both bidding, hosting and ensuring a documented legacy of major sports events.

One very important issue for TI is stakeholder involvement in the sense that sport begins to include all stakeholders in the governing of sport, from grassroots to governments. Both fans and sponsors are encouraged to engage more actively in securing that integrity is upheld and as for national governments, intergovernmental organisations should assist them in helping to identity “policy gaps, needs, solutions and progress in promoting integrity in sport,” the report says.

“The report is a resource for all those interested in restoring trust in sport. We encourage international, regional and national sports organisations, sponsors, local and national government, and international organisations to review its detailed recommendations and work together with supporters and the grassroots to #cleanupsports,” says the press release.

The report was officially launched at an event in London on 23rd February that had IOC’s Chief Ethics and Compliance officer, Pâquerette Girard Zappelli, and Jaimie Fuller, co-founder of New FIFA Now, among the panelists.

More information


Read more about the 'Global Corruption Report: Sport'

Read more about the Sports Governance Observer


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