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Faster Higher Stronger: Ending corruption in sport

Written by Rachel Davies on Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Over the weekend another allegation of sport corruption hit the headlines. The Sunday Times claimed that a London football club, which has secured the use of the Olympic Stadium after the Games, was making regular payments to a member of the deciding body during the bidding process.


Over the weekend another allegation of sport corruption hit the headlines. The Sunday Times claimed that a London football club which has secured the use of the Olympic Stadium after the Games, was making regular payments to a member of the deciding body during the bidding process.

It is yet to be confirmed whether or not these claims of bribery are true, but this is already another blow to the reputation of a sector which has frequently featured in the headlines under allegations of this nature.

Our recent publication, Corruption in the UK, revealed that the British public believe sport to be the second most corrupt sector in the country. There are certainly large amounts of money at stake – both in securing rights to sporting events and in gambling. The diverse range of cases studied in the report demonstrate three common risk factors – the problem of self-regulation, the difficulty of regulating against international corruption, and links with organised crime.

For those in the criminal underworld sport is an attractive area to engage with because it gives legitimacy and social status, as well as providing potentially lucrative contacts for future ventures. Sport supplies a channel for overseas gangs to increase criminal activity yet remain relatively undetected. What is clear is that nearly all types of sport corruption identified in our report have an international dimension. This makes regulation within the sector difficult.

What particularly saddens me about this, and other recent cases such as the FIFA scandal is that sport can be such a wonderful medium for good – it brings communities together and cultivates a culture where people strive for improvement. It can even offer a space where people are able to rise above the conflict which usually divides them.

In some areas of sport, corruption has already been proven, and not simply alleged. It has involved both well-known sports personalities and senior members of various sporting bodies. This casts a shadow not only on the reputation of their own sport, but the sector in general. One of the defining aspects of sport is that matches are played fairly – a game breaks down if all parties do not abide by a common set of rules. Corruption distorts this. When the leadership of a sporting body is corrupted, this can rapidly permeate the whole system which sits underneath.

Transparency International UK is recommending a full independent inquiry into UK sport, with a view to setting up a coordinated response to corruption within sport across the country. For further information on this issue, click here to view the report.

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Read 8752 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 11:47
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Rachel Davies

Rachel Davies Teka is Head of Advocacy at TI-UK, and co-chair of the Bond Anti-Corruption Group. You can tweet her @rachelcerysd.

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