Sports & Governance - The Year In Review 2020/21

Picture of lady holding ipad at old football stadium
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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Jack Anderson

Jack Anderson

Jack Anderson is a Professor of Law at the University of Melbourne where he teaches criminal law, the law of torts and sports law.

Jack has published widely in the area of sports law and 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). He was Editor-in-Chief of the International Sports Law Journal based at the International Sports Law Centre at the Asser Institute from 2013 to 2016. He is Honorary Member of the Centre for Sports Law, Sports Policy and Sports Diplomacy, University of Riejeka, Croatia and an external examiner at the University of Malaya.

An accredited workplace mediator and a Chartered Arbitrator, (CArb). Jack is an arbitrator on the international panel for Sport Resolutions UK and World Athletics’ Disciplinary Tribunal. Jack is a member of International Hockey Federation’s Integrity Unit and a founding member of the Asia Racing Federation’s Anti-Illegal Betting Taskforce. In Australia, Jack sits on the disciplinary tribunal of the Football Federation of Victoria and for Basketball Australia. In 2019, Jack was appointed by the Victoria government to the Board of Harness Racing Victoria. He is Vice-President of Gaelic Games Victoria.

From 2016-2019, he was a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport and appeared on the list of arbitrators of the CAS Ad hoc Division for the UEFA EURO 2016 (European football championships). He was the sole CAS arbitrator at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. In 2019, he was appointed to the International Tennis Federation’s Ethics Commission and was asked by the Australian government to chair the advisory committee to prepare for the establishment of a national sports tribunal. In 2020, he was appointed as a member of the National Sports Tribunal of Australia.

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