European sport ministers target threats to sport’s integrity

Photo: Council of Europe


By Stine Alvad
Cooperation is key in the fight against match-fixing, doping and hooliganism, say European sport ministers and encourage government bodies and sport to unite to improve sport governance.

At the 14th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers Responsible for Sport held in Budapest on 29 November, sport ministers from more than 40 countries and stakeholders from various areas in sport, including Play the Game, met to discuss a number of threats to the integrity of sport. The discussions centered on how to improve the fight against doping and match-fixing, how to curb hooliganism and fan violence and how to secure good governance in sports organisations.

The meeting concluded with the signing of two conventions; one against the manipulation of sports competitions and one against fan violence and hooliganism, primarily at football matches.

The sport minister conference also produced a number of resolutions concerning doping, match-fixing and good governance. Common to all was the call for enhanced cooperation between governmental bodies and sport’s stakeholders.

“There will be no progress on match-fixing unless governments agree to, and implement, a common legal framework, allowing justice to operate across borders; no progress on doping unless each and every country, and the big international actors, get behind a clear and consistent division of responsibilities, which reduces the possibility of conflicts of interests; and there will be no progress at all unless national authorities and the sports movement can agree on a single, recognised set of principles to guide governance structures,” said Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe in a speech at the meeting.

This common framework was encouraged in one resolution on good governance in sport, in which ministers agreed to enhance this cooperation between governmental bodies and sport’s stakeholders. The aim is to achieve an improved governance by welcoming initiatives that inspire the coordination of efforts in the area and the implementation of higher standards of transparency and governance. This could entail “common benchmarks”, the monitoring and improvement of efforts in terms of governance and the resolution refers to both self-assessment and to outside control in this area..

Continued research is needed
Proposals for how European governments in cooperation with integrity programmes can take governmental measures against sport organisations that do not live up to governance standards were encouraged. And while the resolution, as a first step, encourages all federations to adopt the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) Key Governance Principles and Basic indicators, it also invites EPAS to regularly discuss available indicators and research in the area.

Among areas in international sport governance that are encouraged to be further discussed are  conflicts of interest, gender balance and multi stakeholder representation as well as securing human rights, separation of powers and financial transparency.

The resolution also proposes that a line of recommendations is drafted to facilitate the implementation of governance principles. This could include the use of various platforms, grant awarding to organisations and events compliant with said principles and the demonstration of transparency in the compliance work.

WADA and Council of Europe sign MoU
Another of the resolutions focuses on how to address the challenges in the fight against doping and the ministers agree that governments should assess and revise if necessary their policies and practices in the area to improve the effectiveness.

The resolution calls for the European representatives in world anti-doping agency WADA to work for a strengthening of the anti-doping system by “promoting the independence of the doping control”, ”reinforcing the role played by public authorities in the development and implementation of the world anti-doping programme”, safeguarding the independent role of WADA and strengthening the agency’s governance and capabilities. The resolution also agrees to support the whistleblower programme established by WADA.

The ministers further consent to support information exchange between public authorities and WADA on doping related matters and to consider expanding the scope of the national anti-doping agencies (NADOs) among other things by securing them “appropriate core funding”.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Council of Europe and WADA was also among the outcome of the meeting. With the MoU, the two entities aim at improving and strengthening their cooperation in areas such as “monitoring and compliance; standard setting; and as it relates to national anti-doping programmes”, says a press release on the MoU.

“This cannot be done in isolation,” said president of WADA, Sir Craig Reedie in a speech to the ministers present in Budapest, referring to the fight against doping. “WADA cannot do this alone. WADA will need the support of all its partners. WADA will need the support of Europe.”

The fight against match-fixing is a topic for another resolution that acknowledges the fact that the majority of Council member countries have signed the Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions. In the resolution, the ministers support the elaboration of a roadmap that can help assess the results of the convention. This will help secure its effectiveness and further mobilise the cooperation of relevant actors, the resolution says.

Georgia and Montenegro have expressed interest in hosting the next Council of Europe meeting for ministers responsible for sport.


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