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Parliamentarians pledge steps to help sport ‘uphold its core values’

PACE members meeting at a major gathering of sports ministers from across Europe have proposed ten key steps to protect children involved in sport against sexual abuse, crack down on corruption and help sport uphold its core values of fair play and respect for human rights.

PACE's Sub-Committee on Education, Youth and Sport, and its Sub-Committee on Children, meeting jointly on the margins of the 15th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Sport in Tbilisi (16 October 2018), brought together government representatives, sports and law enforcement officials, academics and NGOs to discuss ways of building on the work of their ministerial counterparts.

Georgios Mavrotas (Greece, SOC), Chairperson of the Sub-Committee on Education, Youth and Sport, said sport – while being an invaluable tool for social and human development – had recently faced a "vast array of threats" and that it was essential to safeguard its moral values. "Recent scandals, whether involving sexual abuse, corruption or other human rights violations, have tarnished the reputation of sport," he pointed out.

"There needs to be a robust response from sport governing bodies and public authorities. As parliamentarians, we are making a strong commitment, together with other like-minded organisations, to support long-overdue and urgently-needed reform in sport. Whether in national parliaments or as individual legislators, we pledge to do what we can to help sport rediscover its moral compass."

Baroness Massey, Chairperson of the Sub-Committee on Children, said: "Sport has immense potential to promote human development. Sadly, we have seen that lack of transparency, power imbalances and the drive to win at all costs have created a breeding ground for all sorts of abuse. I am particularly concerned about the well-being of children in sport. The meeting in Tbilisi has enabled us to draw attention to these issues, and to discuss what we can do in the future."

Karen Leach, a child protection advocate, pointed out in her powerful testimony: "I am not my Past, I am a Victor not a victim. I might not have got to the Olympics as a little girl, but last week I went to the Youth Olympics, not to compete but to deliver my message: please do not stop, never give up working towards keeping every child and young person safe in sports. Many young boys and girls have huge dreams just like I did. Every adult is responsible to ensure children and young people are safe in sports. It is time for all of us to take action to ensure this."