IPACS – Sport and Corruption: a shared challenge

London , 

Check against delivery

Minister, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to address this session today:

A day on which I have come directly from the ceremony where the United Kingdom signed the Council of Europe’s Macolin Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions: a very positive development.

This follows our 15th Conference of Ministers responsible for sport, which was held in Tbilisi – just last month – and served as an opportunity to renew our collective commitment to integrity in sport.

So it is with a welcome sense of momentum that we can acknowledge, here in London, not just the shared challenge of overcoming corruption, but also the common approach by which IPACS seeks to achieve it.

The three task forces leading our efforts are already hard at work:

The first is of course looking at ways to reduce the risk of corruption in public procurement in the context of major sports events, while the second aims to ensure transparency and integrity in the awarding process of sports events selection.

The OECD is rightly co-ordinating those groups, where I know that existing standards and findings generated by other international organisations, including our own anti-corruption monitoring body, GRECO, are proving a useful supplement to its own good work.

The third task force, co-ordinated by the Council of Europe’s Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport, is dedicated to ensuring the promotion of good governance.

Our activities in this area include:

EPAS’ consideration of alleged corruption cases, resulting in governance reviews that are shared among our experts;

The recent publication of our handbook of good practice on reviewing the governance of sports organisation;

And a recommendation to our member states on the same theme, prepared by EPAS, which will be presented to our Committee of Ministers for adoption next week.

In addition, the task force has undertaken research on existing good governance requirements in the areas of financial transparency, conflicts of interest and term limits – and is doing follow-up analysis on trends and indicators to see what lessons can be learned and put into effect.

So our commitment to progress runs deep, as does our appreciation for the co-operation with all our IPACS partners.

Because, when it comes to corruption in sport, there must be a change of gear.

We must enable national governments, international organisations and sporting bodies to demonstrate their capacity to take on this problem in a spirit of unity and determination.

IPACS was founded for precisely this purpose – and together we will meet the challenge.

Q&A for moderator

1: DSG, in your introductory words you mentioned the work of GRECO. Could you specify how GRECO‘s standards can help address challenges in good governance in sports?

- I encourage international sport organisations to take advantage of GRECO’s expertise in the area of public sector integrity, as well as its evaluation methodology to help prevent corruption in the sport sector. GRECO stands ready to provide that expertise to any of the sport organisations present here today.

- Corruption in the private sector is criminalised under our Criminal Law Convention on Corruption. However, a recent GRECO Study based on a systematic analysis of bribery cases at a national level shows that in many jurisdictions there remains both legal and practical obstacles to prosecuting corruption in sport – and there are still much fewer cases of reported private sector corruption than public sector ones. Obstacles include:

  • the qualification of the sport sector as “not-for-profit” which is an area outside the scope of application of some national anti-bribery provisions;
  • persistent gaps in whistle-blower protections in the area of sport;
  • limited incentives and no explicit legal obligation to report bribery in the private sector.

We need to fix these shortcomings without delay.

2: Further specify the challenges ahead for IPACS

- Working on these areas is necessary, but none of these initiatives will succeed if the tools produced are not used: stakeholders should therefore take IPACS task-force findings on board with regard to their own domestic measures and standard setting

- IPACS can remain an informal setting, but we should aim for increased visibility and a clearly articulated strategy. The publication of an IPACS webpage and today’s high level are an indication that we are heading in the right direction.

The aims and commitments outlined within IPACS must be pursued collectively (through IPACS’ common activities) and individually, through the activities of every partner organisation.

- This platform should be inclusive and provide governments, international organisations and sports organisations alike with the opportunity to share in our efforts in order to raise standards as broadly as possible.

3: Could you further specify how the CoE’s tools address good governance issues?

- The Council of Europe’s approach to fighting corruption in sport:

  • A better understanding of the phenomenon. EPAS is reviewing and analysing alleged cases of corruption in sport. The results of the governance reviews are shared and discussed among our experts.
  • More effective investigations and prosecution of corrupt behaviour in sport. GRECO is highlighting the obstacles to prosecuting cases of corruption in the private sector in general. It is also challenging governments to take steps to fill legislative loopholes, to remove obstacles to prosecution of corruption in sport and to step up whistle-blowers’ protection.
  • Good governance is promoted at every level. EPAS has just published a handbook of good practices on reviewing the governance of sports organisations, and a CM recommendation to member states on the promotion of good governance in sport will be presented to the Committee of Ministers for adoption next week.

- The 15th Conference of Ministers responsible for Sport, which took place in Tbilisi on 16 October, renewed political commitment and specified some follow-up measures.

  • Renewed GRECO action on the enforcement of the private sector corruption provisions of our Criminal Law Convention on corruption.
  • Work on the implementation of our framework of whistle-blowers’ protection in the area of sport.
  • Regular report to the Committee of Ministers, to keep the topic on the political agenda.
  • Call for entry into force of the Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions.

- In our day to day co-operation with our partners from the sports movement, the promotion of good governance and addressing the risk of corruption is key.

  • Recent MoUs with FIFA, UEFA and WADA cover objectives in these areas.
  • EPAS CC members are involved in intergovernmental discussions and initiatives on these matters. They are also challenged to comply with the political commitments of the Council of Europe.