© European Union 2021 - Source : EP
& Panel discussion
4 October 2022
"Since my time in the German Parliament,
sports, sports policy and especially the fight for
integrity and fairness in sports have been one of my dearest
areas to work in, because the aim is clear:
making sure everyone on and off the court, field or track
is safe, playing fair and having fun."
- Viola von Cramon
After a short introduction by MEP Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, the author of the study Grit Hartmann took the floor to highlight the most important findings and her conclusions.
"The lack of enforcement of self-enforced rules are evident in every case of sport corruption. Independent oversight over sport organization is necessary."
"Can self-regulation in sport organizations work? I don’t think so. Sports federations are still allowed to exclusively promote their sport and make money out of it."
"We have enough institutions' commitment to preventing corruption without any trustworthy results. Please stop being co-opted by sports organizations solely for the creation of new, non-binding guidelines and handbooks to fight corruption in sports. Please refrain from adopting new declarations with mere statements of intent to fight corruption in sport."
"Geopolitics has now come into sports. It is not only a matter of soft diplomacy, but of very hard diplomacy."
- Jens Seyer Andersen, Play the Game
Jens Seyer Andersen from Play the Game shared insights from his work and the previous support he has gathered for the establishment of a World Anti-Corruption Agency. He expressed the need for action over continued discussion and his thoughts on the strength of the EU in this field.
"People outside the Olympic family are never invited to tell what to do, even if the challenges for sport are enormous. However, corruption problems have grown too large to handle by sport organizations on either national, regional or international level."
"The European Union is one of the actors in the field that has the muscles to regulate the sports industry. The heart and the backbone of the sports industries is in Europe. What happens in EU sports legislation will be decisive."
In her contribution, EU Athletes General Secretary Paulina Tomczyk stressed the perspective of athletes on corruption in sports.
She pointed out the imbalance in the sports organizations, which pursue a zero-tolerance strategy toward athletes when it comes to doping.
On the other hand, they rarely pursue nepotism among officials.
“Athletes have the right to a sports environment that is free of corruption and values their human rights.”
“There is a huge power imbalance in sports. There are no sports without athletes. However, at the same time, athletes have very little say in the rules.”
Maximilian Klein from Athleten Deutschland e.V. also followed up with an athlete-based perspective, sharing the experiences of his foundation. He emphasized that the experiences of his work reflect what studies highlight about the global state of sport. In the name of Athleten Deutschland he welcomed the plan to establish an independent oversight organization.
“There is a range of things athletes’ have to cope with. We stress the need for independent support. When we listen to these athletes and what they have experienced in the system, we have to understand that the existing reporting mechanisms do not work.”
“What we experience in Germany is something that the report analyzes on a global level. On the international level, there are the same structures. There is also a need for independent mechanisms.”
“Athletes Germany is most welcoming the proposal to establish an independent oversight organization.”
In an inspiring contribution, academic and investigative journalist Declan Hill highlighted the dangerous state sports are currently in. Any of the reforms that are urgently needed at the moment should inspire a new enthusiasm for sport in general, in addition to structural changes.
“Sports are endangered and the WACA needs to rescue them.”
“There has been another dark time in sports. In the late 1890s, many sports like professional archery were wiped out by corruption and match fixing. Therefore, a small group met up in a restaurant in Paris. The Olympic movement was born that night. Now we face a similar time.
Our sports world is threatened. This is our generation; It is our time, our moment. What new movement can we found to save our sport? As everyone on this panel, I think we need a World Anti-Corruption Agency in sports.”
Academic and investigative journalist Steve Menary followed with a call for action. He stressed the global scale of match-fixing how organized crime uses online betting as a tool for money laundering.
“It is difficult to create this WACA, but we will still be sitting here in ten years if we do not start.”
“There are billions of dollars out there. It’s money from organized crime. They are washing it through online betting websites. There are thousands of these websites. It’s a massive problem.”
As the last speaker, Miguel Poiares Maduro turned back to WACA's structural issues. He called for a precise definition of the organization's tasks and for it to be given not only investigative but also regulatory powers. In the end, Maduro urged to not underestimate the opposition WACA will face.
“If anything, the brief period that I spent as an independent member at FIFA I learned that there is no chance of a meaningful reform from the inside. It has to come from the outside.”
“You should not only see WACA as an invective agency, but a regulatory agency. We need a regulatory body.”
“Do not underestimate the opposition WACA will face.”