By Luke Balleny
LONDON (TrustLaw) – International sporting events like the soccer World Cup and the Olympic Games can become “levers of change” by opening countries up to high levels of public scrutiny and forcing them to become more accountable, Simon Chadwick, professor of Sport Business Strategy and Marketing at Coventry University in the UK told TrustLaw.
Chadwick also spoke to TrustLaw about how and by whom corruption in sport can best be tackled and the importance of “tone at the top” in global sports organisations.
How do you define sports corruption?
If you look at definitions of corruption, certainly in sport, there are two forms of corruption. The first is what we might call competition corruption and the second one is what we might call management corruption. Competition corruption is based around things like match fixing, doping and so forth. In other words, it is based around any measure or activity which will undermine or artificially change the outcome of a sporting contest.
The second form of corruption is management corruption. If we think of the 2018 and 2022 (soccer) World Cup bids, there are still unproven allegations of illegal payments and wrongful payments being made - that is management corruption.
What can be done to tackle these types of corruption?
There needs to be an organisation or several organisations taking a global lead together on this and really beginning to identify what constitutes corrupt activity … what the scale of it is, what the nature of it is and what the penalties should be for people engaging in this. I do not think any one particular organisation can tackle it alone. You do need a global summit on corruption in sport because I think the way in which some sports are trying to get to grips with the problem is very different to the way in which others are.
The other thing that really interests me is the socio-cultural interpretations of corrupt activity. Again, we do need some international agreement on this. I think there does needs to be some clarity in this area, certainly when it comes to things like event bidding.
How important is the “tone at the top” from sports governing bodies when it comes to fighting corruption?
People at the top of governing bodies, of federations, of state government, national government and even international government need to be seen to be taking a lead on this kind of activity. My view would be that going forward from here, nations that do have a poor record in terms of corruption and governance should not be awarded the right to stage sporting mega events.
I think we need global leadership in this area because corruption is not just based around the awarding of sporting mega events and the building of new stadiums, it is based around match fixing, it is based around cronyism and so forth.
Is it realistic to expect sports governing bodies to change their attitudes to corruption?
If we take the (2012) Olympic Games for instance, the emphasis of the legacy has been on creating infrastructure ... But my view is that there is an opportunity, not just for the International Olympic Committee, for (soccer governing body) FIFA, for the countries they work with to use such events as a lever of change.
What is happening with the (2014) World Cup and the (2016) Olympic Games is that Brazil is being opened up to a level of scrutiny that it has probably never been opened up to before.
If exactly that kind of scrutiny could be formalised in some way by these global governing bodies, or global event owners, the legacy would be much more than just building three or four new stadiums or a new road; the potential is there to change the sporting system, the governance system within countries as a direct result of these particular (sporting) events that they are hosting.