Society highly appreciates integrity in sport event organisation

There is a growing gap between society’s expectations of (the realisation of) sport events and the way in which the organisations involved operate. Sport events are appreciated as sources of positive energy and inspiration by policymakers, politicians and a wide audience, yet negative affairs have an undermining effect for a growing number of people. The degree of organisational integrity surrounding sport events is also questionable. This is harmful to the trust in both the events themselves and the organisations involved.

These are just a few of the findings reported in the position paper ‘Integrity & Sport Events’ drafted by the Mulier Institute and Utrecht University in view of the Netherlands EU presidency. The study’s objective was to take stock of the current situation as regards integrity and sport events. Other significant outcomes were:

The integrity of sport events can be said to have 4 dimensions: ‘public value’, ‘transparency’, ‘democratic processes’ and ‘checks and balances’.

  • All four stages of a sport event’s lifecycle come with integrity issues: in the bid (non-transparent selection process, bribery), during the preparations and organisation (no respect for human rights, public investment and private profits) and legacy (delusively positive prospects, no legacy policy).
  • In the last 40 years, the EU has had an approximately 50% market share in world championships. This is seven times as high as the EU share in the world population and twice as high as its share in the world economy. Over the same years, the EU market share in the world championships of swimming, bicycle racing, and soccer has shrunk (from 60% to 29%).
  • Despite various initiatives towards the promotion of organisational integrity, further action is required if the trust in sport events is to be restored. A task is set aside here for sport organisations and suppliers (e.g. sponsors) as well as national governments and the EU.

This study was conducted with the support of the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport within the scope of the Netherlands EU presidency. Integrity in sport events has been adopted as a central theme for the sports domain during the EU presidency.

The research was conducted by the Mulier Institute in collaboration with Utrecht University. VU University Amsterdam and the Bureau Nieuwe Gracht planning, design and research agency also contributed. The project was supervised by a Dutch group of experts.

Please click here to download the position paper.

Click here for the factsheet on the report.

For more information, please contact Paul Hover.