The shots have been called. The first report on global corruption in sport is out

FIFA, IAAF, tennis match-fixing and doping in cycling. We’re overwhelmed by global corruption in sport. Transparency International has published a new report to make sense of it all.

The first ever Global Corruption Report: Sport was presented by Transparency International, the Berlin-based NGO that monitors corruption worldwide, on the 23rd of February. Containing articles from sixty experts, the document aims to restore people’s faith in sport in light of the corruption scandals that have afflicted it in the past few years.

The values of sport

Since ancient times, sport has been strictly embedded with concepts of personal development, wisdom and the virtue of justice. Plato associated it with moral enrichment, whilst Aristotle saw it as an ethical responsibility. In Ancient Greece, the cradle of the Olympic games, sport and athletics were so sacred that wars were suspended and truces agreed in the name of safe and healthy competition. In other words, sport brought people together, to the benefit of its protagonists as well as society.


Today things have changed and personal gain is hindering its integrity. “The recent pervasiveness of poor governance and corruption scandals threatens to undermine all the joy that sport brings and the good that it can do,” says Gareth Sweeney, Chief Editor of the Transparency International report. Sport generates billion of dollars in revenue and, together with the fact that it has historically remained autonomous, this has paved the way for self-interest gaining ground over accountability.


Corruption in football

As one of the world’s most popular and profitable sports, football is often subject to corrupt practices. Many football clubs have become money-laundering havens and, amongst other things, the report focuses on the misconduct observed in this discipline. According to a poll of 25,000 football fans worldwide, 69% have no faith in the organisation that governs it, FIFA, whilst 43% say that scandals, including the suspension of FIFA President Sepp Blatter for bribery, are affecting the way they enjoy the sport. But corruption is not limited to football: cycling, athletics, cricket and many more have been riddled with systemic corruption.


The global corruption in sport report

The document is divided into key areas including governance, major events like the FIFA World Cup and Olympics, match-fixing, football, US collegiate sports and the role of participants in sport. It provides a series of recommendations to governments as well as sports bodies and participants, based on an analysis of existing structures, good and bad practices, and the views of athletes and fans. It highlights the need for more transparency, increased checks to stop corruption and human rights abuses, and higher levels of accountability in order to clean up sport and rekindle its original spirit.

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