As delivered by Bjørn Berge, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be here and to share some thoughts and ideas about how to reinforce the integrity of sports.
The Olympic Games are at the very pinnacle of international sports competitions.
They are followed by millions of people from around the world and held in the highest esteem.
It is therefore vital that we do what we can to ensure that the Games enjoy the utmost respect and credibility.
Certainly, at the Council of Europe, we are ready to share our insights and standards and to provide what support we can.
At its best, sport is something we can all cherish and enjoy – irrespective of who we are.
Many have said it much better than me, but nobody better than the late, great Nelson Mandela:
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination”.
It is also inclusive, team-spirited and brings physical and psychological benefits for those who take part.
My view is that for sports to achieve these outcomes – from the amateur to the professional levels – they should conform to the highest standards that we uphold.
To look at sports through the prism of human rights, democracy and the rule of law is to apply values in the pursuit of ethical standards.
And this is worth every effort.
In addition, we have developed specific treaties to tackle particular problems in the sports world:
- Our Anti-doping Convention;
- Our Convention on an Integrated Safety, Security and Service Approach at Football Matches and Other Sports Events (the Saint-Denis Convention).
- The Convention against the manipulation of sports competitions (the Macolin Conventon).
Additionally, and importantly, the European Convention on Human Rights, interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights, results in legally-binding judgments including in sport-related cases
All of these contribute to the integrity of sport.
Where they are applied, they work, and we are always very happy to discuss them further with this Committee.
But I am very aware, Chairman, that the focus for today is on the issues of corruption in sports and the manipulation of sports competitions –
And these are crucial issues that merit our close attention.
Because the elimination of corruption is also integral to the integrity of sport and indeed good governance more broadly.
Over several years, the Council of Europe has developed extensive expertise in this area, to the benefit of our 47 member states.
On sports specifically, our Macolin Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions was opened for signature seven years ago and came into effect in 2019.
On this subject, it remains the only international treaty with the force of law.
It seeks cooperation between public authorities, betting operators and sports organisations and competition organisers –
And is designed to detect, report and sanction the manipulation of sports competitions.
It also includes a common legal framework for efficient international cooperation in response to what remains a global problem.
Reaching consensus between governments on the content of the Macolin Convention was not easy.
It took ten years of hard work.
But doing so marked a turning point.
Not just in inter-governmental cooperation –
But in cooperation between governments and the sports movement which was consulted on the content of the treaty and was ably represented by the IOC.
Indeed, this Committee has been staunch in its support and promotion of the Macolin Convention.
For this we are grateful.
At the same time it is clear that if both governments and sports organisations work closely, we can achieve concrete and important results.
The IOC’s development of parallel, complementary sports standards, set out in its Code against Manipulation, is testament to that fact, and to this Committee’s constructive approach.
Since then, we have come further and drawn closer.
The establishment of IPACS has provided governments and the sports movement with a joint platform for addressing the risk of corruption in sport.
It has proven effective in building consensus and developing guidelines that prevent and address abuse.
I also want to highlight the role of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), which for more than 20 years now, has played a leading role in preventing and countering corruption, and now also contributes to work in IPACS Task Force 2 and 4 –
Also the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) is actively coordinating the work of IPACS Task Force 3 on optimising the processes of compliance with good governance principles to mitigate the risk of corruption.
I believe that even on the most sensitive matters, progress is being made on the basis of shared interests, common values, and mutual trust.
That said, the challenges ahead should not be underestimated.
As guidelines are agreed, we must certainly find the best way to promote them.
In particular, we need to motivate stakeholders to put those guidelines to use within their organisations, at the national and international levels, and in their everyday world as well broader reforms.
Because there is no doubt that this is in the interests of the stakeholders themselves, and the integrity and good standing of sports as a whole.
We love and cherish sports.
We understand their impact and importance.
Protecting them from corruption ensures the fair play that every competitor and spectator has a right to expect.
On our side, we are committed to working with the IOC and others to ensure that we continue this important journey.
There is no doubt, President Bach, faster, higher and stronger together we can make unprecedented progress.
Thank you very much for your attention.