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'Sport must not be above the law'

Speaking today in Macolin/Magglingen (Switzerland) at the opening of the Conference of European Ministers of Sport, organised by the Council of Europe in partnership with the Swiss Federal Office of Sport, PACE President Anne Brasseur stressed that “sport must not be above the law”.

“The fact that sport is a flourishing economic activity is not in itself open to criticism; problems arise when money and power issues are combined with a lack of transparency in decision-making processes,” she added. The PACE President reiterated the need to fight corruption in sports bodies and to improve the governance of sport, in particular through self-regulation and the development of a culture of transparency.

A former PACE rapporteur on match-fixing, Anne Brasseur also welcomed the new Council of Europe Convention on the manipulation of sports competitions, which was opened today for signature by Council of Europe member and non-member States. “This convention is the result of an extensive collaboration process,” she said, emphasising the exemplary collaboration between the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport and PACE, as well as between the Council of Europe and the world of sport, and with sports betting operators. “We will need to secure the earliest possible ratification and entry into force of this convention and involve non-European states such as the United States or China and other Asian countries.”

“The money which is managed by sports organisations is not ‘private money’; it is the public’s money and those who manage it must be accountable to the public,” said Michael Connarty (United Kingdom, SOC), Vice-Chairperson of the PACE Sub-Committee on Education, Youth and Sport. In order to improve governance in sport, we must “ensure a multidisciplinary and holistic approach, secure remedy, redress and recovery of funds in cases of misappropriation of funds” and “enable regular scrutiny of sport governance at European and world level”, he added.

Members of this sub-committee will be participating tomorrow, at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, in an exchange of views with FIFA representatives – including the Director of Communications and the Director of Legal Affairs – and with the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Investigatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee. Discussion will focus on the reform of football governance.