The Cologne Consensus

The conference 'Play the Game 2011' showed many perspectives on the problem of corruption in sport. In spite of the different prespectives, the more than 300 participants gave their broad support for a final declaration 'The Cologne Consensus'.

The Consensus was prepared in consultation with several of the invited governance experts and is a vision of how a first step in rebuilding confidence in the international sports organisations could look.

Play the Game 2011
Cologne, 6 October 2011

End statement of the conference


The participants in the Play the Game 2011 conference, held at the German Sport University Cologne, state that the problems related to mismanagement and corruption in sports are serious and widespread.

The conference participants, including stakeholders and experts from over 40 countries, are convinced that the fundamental integrity and credibility of the sports movement is at stake, and that this is weakening the role of sport as a positive force in society. 

Existing principles, mechanisms and institutions to enhance good governance and counter corruption have proved inadequate.

The Play the Game initiative and its conference participants remain committed to influencing sports governing and oversight bodies, in every way possible, regarding the urgent need for change.

Play the Game 2011 recognises the central role of organised sport, and encourages the international sports movement and, in particular, the International Olympic Committee to take a leading role in bringing about the necessary change.

Therefore we propose the establishment of a Global Code for Governance in Sport based on a series of international standards covering inter alia:

  • Governance documents and practices, and democratic procedures
  • Representation principles, including age, gender, ethnicity, tenure and stakeholder issues  
  • Principles of autonomy and cooperation with governments
  • Transparency and accountability, both operational and financial
  • Monitoring, compliance and enforcement, including the feasibility of an independent agency to this end
  • Development of grass-root sport
  • Education, sharing of information and best practices
  • Equity, inclusiveness, non-discrimination and minority protection 

As a first step we encourage the IOC to organize a world conference before the end of 2012 in cooperation with governments, intergovernmental bodies such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe, OECD, the European Union and Interpol, sports stakeholders such as SportAccord, ANOC and non-Olympic sports organisations, as well as with representatives of elected athletes, sponsors, the gambling industry, the media community, academics, NGO’s and other relevant experts.

The conference should be used to draft the code and the international standards for good governance in sport. The code and the standards would be formally adopted by the IOC, the NOCs, the international federations and their respective subsidiaries. Recognition and participation in international sports activities, as well as the bidding for and hosting of international sports events, should be made conditional upon adherence to the code and the standards.

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