What we want to achieve

The main goal of the project ‘Strengthening Athlete Power in Sport’ (SAPIS) is to strengthen the influence and representation of athletes in sport through increased democratisation of sports governance and management.

The project will:

  • describe the opportunities for athletes to participate in and contribute to the decision making in their sport

  • map the existing structures and practices for athlete representation

  • identify ways to strengthen the capacity of athletes to take part in decision-making in sport

If we ensure that the collective interests and views of the most critical stakeholder in sport – the athletes – are taken into account when decisions about sport are made by governing bodies, leagues, clubs and public authorities, we will strengthen the legitimacy of sport and the role of sport as a societal force.

How we approach the project
During the three-year project period from 2020 to 2022, project partners will carry out a number of concrete activities. They include:

  • A review of the available academic literature in the field of athlete representation in sport

  • Mapping existing formal and informal athlete representation structures within Olympic and non-Olympic sports at the level of rule-takers as well as rule-makers

  • Case studies of good practices for representation from the sports movement as well as other sectors with strong experiences of membership-based representation, e.g. trade unions

  • Analysis of strengths and weaknesses linked to athlete activism in less formal settings such as campaigns, individual or collective actions on social media etc.

  • Development of innovative solutions for athlete representation in sports organisations and athlete participation in the wider sports political debate

  • Recommendations for how to implement new solutions for athlete representation in small, medium and large European-wide and international sports organisations and federations

  • Educational and training opportunities for capacity building among athletes, sports leaders, and policy makers

  • Establishing sustainable networks between academics, athletes, athlete organisations, sports organisations, and other key stakeholders with an interest in good governance in sport

  • Publication of research in a user-friendly format in the field of athlete representation

  • Initiation of public debates on sports governance with specific reference to the role of athletes in the governing structures of sport

Target groups for the project
The groups who will benefit from this project are:

  • Athletes participating in Olympic sports at a continental or European level

  • Athlete representatives and representatives from Olympic sports at European or international level

  • Elected and employed sports officials in national and international sports organisations and national federations, WADA, the Olympic movement etc.

  • External stakeholders and policy makers from the sports community in Europe (e.g. Council of Europe and Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport)

  • Employees of ministries, local administrations and public institutions with relation to sport

  • Activists in the field of athletes’ safety and athletes’ rights

  • Academic and non-academic researchers and journalists

  • The wider public (e.g. fan groups and stakeholder groups)

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