220 people gather in Reykjavik to discuss ways to end corruption in sport
29.10.2007By Kirsten Sparre
No one knows the exact extent of corruption in sport, but experts estimate that we only hear about five per cent of all cases – the rest is hidden. Today, Play the Game welcomed 220 delegates to the fifth world communication conference on sport and society in Reykjavik and one of the key objectives is to throw light into some of the darker corners of sports governance.
"Ten years ago, when we held our first Play the Game conference neither doping nor corruption was regarded as issues that required thorough reflection and debate, and taking them up publicly was considered an insult on the holy movement of sport," Play the Game’s director Jens Sejer Andersen said in his opening speech.
Two events in 1998, the Festina doping scandal in Tour de France and the exposure of corruption in the IOC, was a rude awakening to the sports world and the population at large. But while doping now is taken seriously by an increasing number of people, corruption in sport is still taking place in plain view of the media without much in the way of intervention.
"On the contrary, corruption seems to be growing in its many forms: Match fixing, trafficking, money laundering, secret commissions and outright bribery to name a few;" Andersen said.
President backs Play the Game
The fifth Play the Game conference has the title: Creating coalitions for good governance in sport, and it has the full backing of the president of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson who spoke with great passion at the opening ceremony about the need to combat corruption in sport.
Iceland’s president pointed out there could hardly be a better place to discuss issues of governance, as corruption hardly exists in the sports federations in his country:
"I will encourage you not to look at Iceland as the exception but as the inspiration. I fundamentally believe we are not that special and that our success can not be marginalised as the result of a different culture," Grímsson said.
Sport an integral to Icelandic identity
"But in Iceland, sport has never been seen as separate from society. It has always been an integral part of how we see ourselves and our society. When we are asked what is the state of play with corruption of sport, we believe it is a fundamental question about society and who we are."
The conference continues until Thursday 1 November. Sessions from the conference can be followed live on www.thepulse2007.org. This is a website made by students from the Danish School of Journalism who are providing live and independent coverage from the conference.
Jens Sejer Andersen's opening speech can be dowloaded from here
You can see the programme for the conference here. All times are local Iceland times (Universal Time Code).