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Sports & Governance - The Year In Review 2020/21

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Friday, 30 April 2021 By Jack Anderson

The French-Algerian philosopher Albert Camus once wrote, “Everything I know most surely about morality and duty; I owe to football”.[1] The saying is probably more a reflection of Camus’ love of football; rather than of the industry that is football. Another of Camus’ celebrated maxims is “integrity has no need of rules”,[2] which echoes the popular sentiment that integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.[3] While the above principles on integrity are important values for any individual sports participant to adhere to; in terms of the organisational integrity of sports bodies, there is a need for such entities to have their commitment to the highest standards of integrity guided by, and rooted in, the principles of good governance.

Many international federations in sport have recently undergone or are undergoing significant governance reform, and specific examples are provided below. Sometimes the driver of such reform is fuelled by allegations of subterfuge – the pace of governance reform in amateur boxing by the International Boxing Association (AIBA), for instance, continued to perturb the IOC in 2020;[4] while on other occasions, reform is necessitated by the fact that the sport has commercially outgrown its original governance structure, as in the case of the ongoing reform process in the NCAA in 2021.[5]  

This review of good governance in sport in 2020 uses benchmarks provided by Sport Australia (the government agency responsible for supporting and investing sport at all levels in that country) to summarise recent trends and happenings in sports governance globally, focusing the following key areas of the review:

  • Board values and collaborative governance;
  • Measurable targets and future strategy for engaging younger audiences;
  • Diversity at board and decision-making level;
  • Risk management; and
  • Monitoring performance.

Mention is also made of the third review of governance standards in international sports federations by the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) released in June 2020. Individual examples of governance reform in sport, including the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), will also be highlighted.

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About the Author

Jack Anderson

Jack Anderson

Jack Anderson is Professor and Director of Sports Law Studies at the University of Melbourne. The sports law program at Melbourne was one of the first to be established globally in the mid-1980 and continues to expand at the Melbourne Law School, which itself is ranked in the top 10 law schools globally.

Jack has published widely in the area including monographs such as The Legality of Boxing (Routledge 2007) and Modern Sports Law (Hart 2010) and edited collections such as Landmark Cases in Sports Law (Asser 2013) and EU Sports Law (Edward Elgar 2018 with R Parrish and B Garcia). He was Editor-in-Chief of the International Sports Law Journal from 2013 to 2016.

Jack is a former member of CAS (2016-2019).  He is currently a member and arbitrator for World Athletics’ Disciplinary Tribunal, the National Sports Tribunal of Australia and the Football Federation of Victoria.  He is a member of International Hockey Federation’s Integrity Unit and Basketball Australia’s National Integrity Advisory Committee.  in 2019, he was appointed to the International Tennis Federation’s Ethics Commission and is currently a Board Member of Harness Racing Victoria.

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