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ClearingSport: Almost 200 experts call for an agency against corruption and crime in world sport

June 08 2023 - News Release News Editorial

Play the Game launches a new report which points to ways ahead for strengthening sports integrity. The report, titled 'ClearingSport', is based on more than 800 comments delivered to Play the Game’s survey on how to establish an agency against sports corruption and crime.

ClearingSport: Almost 200 experts call for an agency against corruption and crime in world sport

For more than 20 years, international sports scandals have raised growing public concerns about how top leaders in the Olympic movement manage the billion-dollar business and political powerhouse that international sport has become.

Backroom bribery, organised crime, political manipulation, match-fixing and various forms of abuse of athletes have made regular headlines, while new and technologically advanced forms of sporting cheat and financial crime are on the rise.

To find a much stronger response to these challenges than is available today, Play the Game launches the report ‘ClearingSport. Towards an agency countering crime and protecting integrity in world sport.’

In January this year, Play the Game sent an online survey to 251 experts and stakeholders, asking them for a path to such a global agency, and how they thought it should be constructed.

“The response was overwhelming. Not only did eight out of ten fill in the questionnaire, they also provided Play the Game with more than 800 thoughtful comments testifying to their expertise, commitment, and creativity,” says Jens Sejer Andersen, international director of Play the Game.

“We now have a unique material produced by some of sport’s most knowledgeable people analysing how an international agency can best solve the wide array of challenges that sport has not been able or willing to deal effectively with.”

The report is authored by German journalist Grit Hartmann who has decades of expertise in working with sports integrity matters. Last year, she made a study for the member of the European Parliament, Viola von Cramon, on the recent history of the most important sports corruption scandals and the initiatives taken so far to fight transnational sports crime.

This study from 2022 laid the basis for the questions in the current report which was provoked by events at the Play the Game 2022 conference last summer.

Here, a number of outstanding international experts called on Play the Game to start an open consultation process exploring the viability of an international agency against all forms of corruption in sport – except doping, which since 1999 has been in the hands of WADA.

“This invitation from our participants came as a surprise to us. We have argued for such an agency since 2006 only to find it dismissed not only by the international sports movement – which was expected – but also by governments who were not willing to invest more time and energy in what they saw as sport’s self-inflicted troubles”, Jens Sejer Andersen tells, adding that Play the Game has not regretted taking up the invitation from the last conference.

“It is evident that abuse, crime and corruption in sport is not only dangerous for sport itself, but to the society as a whole. When a sector with so much financial, political and cultural power as sport becomes a haven for law-breakers, it is dangerous for the well-functioning of democratic societies and the rule of law. That is why governments and sport need to find binding mechanisms to clear sport of these threats.”

Next steps will be taken at Play the Game 2024

For Play the Game, the survey also says a lot about the current sports political climate:

“The high response rate is an indication of growing impatience and frustration among those who take the combat against sports crime seriously. The fact that almost half of the respondents have answered anonymously might very well reflect that they suspect that the sports environment do not welcome open discussions on these sensitive issues.”

The ‘ClearingSport’ report does not present a quick fix, but analyses advantages and obstacles connected to different measures. Based on the input from the almost 200 experts, ‘ClearingSport’ describes various road maps and possible tasks of a global agency.

‘ClearingSport’ is meant to qualify further consultation and Play the Game will continue to commit to drive the process. One of the next steps will be taken at its 2024 conference from 4-7 February in Trondheim, Norway.

For Play the Game’s future work with the project, the name ‘ClearingSport’ replaces the old working title ‘WACA: World Anti-Corruption Agency’ for a number of reasons, among others:

  • ‘ClearingSport’ is active, descriptive and easy to say
  • It is not an acronym that has to be explained
  • It connotates with the concepts ‘clearing house’ and transparency
  • It cannot be confounded with WADA
  • It has sport in its name

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