Report on the recent European Commission Expert Group “Integrity” meeting

Updated: Mar 13, 2019

The third meeting of the European Commission Expert Group on “Integrity” took place on the 21st and 22nd of February in Larnaca, Cyprus. ENGSO was represented by the former chair of the ENGSO EU Advisory Committee Poul Broberg, Director of Public Affairs in the NOC and Sports Confederation of Denmark, the Danish ENGSO member.

One session was devoted to the fight against match-fixing, where the discussion was started by a presentation on the International Partnership Against Corruption in Sport (IPACS). The initiative aims at getting the most influential organisations around the same table to agree on common efforts on the fight against corruption and match-fixing in sport. The key organisations in IPACS include the International Olympic Committee, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Council of Europe and the Government of the United Kingdom. Until now the collaboration among both government and sports organisations within IPACS has secured a discussion on the same topic among the most influential countries in the world in the G20 network.

Furthermore, member states and observers were given an update by the Council of Europe and its Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) on the status of the ratification of the Macolin Convention. So far, the convention is not having the required five ratification countries to go into implementation, although some progress is foreseen.

The most extensive session during the Expert Group meeting concentrated on good governance in sport. The presentations were each an example on how different approaches can be used to improve governance in European sport. The first presentation was made by the hosts, Cyprus on how they have drafted a new nationwide good governance code in sport. The second presentation was from Supporters Direct presenting their work with improving the governance in football supporter organisations, where the key challenge is that all involved are volunteers and thereby not equipped with the same resources, when it comes to implementing a better governance code. The third and final presentation in this session was made by the European Olympic Committees’ EU Office on their POINTS project, in which several ENGSO member organisations are involved.

The second day of the meeting started with a presentation from Loughborough University on the EU Commission funded study on corruption in sport. Most of the study has been conducted as a desk research, where the researchers have identified a wide range of cases and issues, which they have defined as examples of corruption in sport.

The final session of the Expert Group meeting was focusing on safeguarding children in sport. In this session Loughborough University was also among the presenters as the university on behalf of the European Commission has conducted a mapping of EU initiatives aiming at safeguarding children in sport. Finally, a best practice example funded by Erasmus+ on how sport can improve the safeguarding of children in sport was presented.

Commenting on the outcome of the meeting, Poul Broberg agreed that sharing the progress and best practices regarding good governance in sport are important for the success of the common efforts to tackle corruption in sport.

“However, the work is far from being done. We, as organised sport need to take active measures to implement the principles of good governance in our daily work, at all levels. It’s not just a publicity trick: we need transparency, diversity and inclusion to stay viable as a movement, from grassroots to the very top. To keep our credibility and autonomy, we need to keep on pushing for change from the inside”, Broberg says.

The upcoming Finnish EU presidency also informed the member states and observers that the priority of the Finnish Presidency, when it comes to integrity in sport, will be safeguarding children in sport. The next meeting of the Expert Group on Integrity will take place in June 2019 in the Finnish capital, Helsinki.

Participants of the Expert Group meeting (Photo credit: Vassos Koutsioundas)