Governance in sport: Change or be changed?

Photo:Thomas Søndergaard/Play the Game

Photo Thomas Søndergaard/Play the Game


“Change or be changed” was the warning the IOC President sent to the sports world when the ‘Agenda 2020’ reform package was adopted. Three years later it is time to ask: Did change actually happen?

Play the Game 2017 will be a festival for the sports governance debate, attracting sports leaders, critics, researchers and public officials to discuss how to make real progress in sport after years of unbelievable scandal. Not many sports bodies have gone through the recent years without talks of reforms, but how are such reforms best implemented and carried out?

Having led the IOC through its first major scandal following the Salt Lake City Games, IOC member Richard W. Pound has made remarkable comments onthe current state of the political culture at the IOC – perhaps it is time for a new thorough reform?

As one who has been part of an internal reform process, the former head of the adjudicative arm of the FIFA Ethical Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert, will give his viewpoints on how independent committees could and should work as governmental guides.

The Council of Europe has been an active player in the fight against corruption in sport, and representing a governmental point of view, Stanislas Frossard, EPAS director, will join the discussion about whether sport should accept external monitoring of its governance and about how to define global  standards. Frossard will be sided by president of the Danish NOC, Niels Nygaard, who will give the sports movement’s point of view.

Play the Game’s own contribution to the governance debate will be served by Arnout Geeraert who will walk delegates through some of the various types of governance reform work that is currently going on all over the globe. As a project leader of the National Sports Governance Observer, he will also let delegates in on the first preliminary results of this project benchmarking the state of governance in national sports federations (see box).

In another move to improve sports governance internationally, the UNESCO Kazan action plan was endorsed by 166 member states earlier this year. Will this plan significantly improve how sports is governed and how to go from words to action? This will be discussed in a session that includes Permanent Secretary of Fiji’s Department of Youth and Sport, Alison Burchell among others.

Case stories and concrete ideas
Play the Game 2017 will also bring the latest case stories of corruption and mismanagement, pairing them with sessions providing ideas on tools for better leadership. Jane Purdon from UK Sport will present experiences from the recently implemented Code for Sports Governance.

Furthermore, a partner session set up by The Outer Line will discuss the role and the responsibility of sponsors in sports governance, while the president of anti-racism network FARE, Piara Powar, will present in another partner session recent findings on ethnic and gender diversity in sports governance.

How is the state of governance in  national sports federations?


As a tool for both sports leaders, researchers and officials to measure, discuss and amend governance standards and practices, the ongoing project National Sports Governance Observer aims to benchmark the state of governance in national sports federations.

Play the Game 2017 delegates can expect to be presented with the very first preliminary results of the data collected by the eight partners who have reviewed at least eight federations in their respective countries.

The final report is expected to be launched in November 2018 but at Play the Game 2017, a smaller report describing which indicators have been used will be available.

See more about the National Sports Governance Observer
A4header 14X3cm 2017
In more than 40 sessions, over 200 speakers will present their thoughts and opinions on a wide range of the most topical questions in world sport during the tenth Play the Game conference, taking place in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, 26-30 November 2017.

Discover the programme and the continuously updated speakers list.

Sign up now and secure yourself four days densely packed with debates, discussions and networking between experts and professionals from sport, media and academia.

Read more and register

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