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Other useful sports codes and principles

A brief look at some more sports codes and principles

The Principles of Good Governance for Sport and Recreation

The Sport and Recreation Alliance (SRA) is a membership body providing advice, support and guidance to grassroots organisations in the UK sports sector.  As part of its remit it has taken a keen interest in good governance.

The SRA’s new Principles of Good Governance for Sport and Recreation (Principles)  were launched in May 2017.

Each of the seven principles is accompanied by a list of recommended actions to achieve better governance. The Principles are intended to be applied flexibly and proportionally, according to the size and structure of your organisation. They are targeted principally at the board of your organisation and each principle provides both ‘supporting governance actions’ and ‘guidance notes’.

The seven principles are as follows.

The board should uphold the highest standards of integrity within the organisation by embedding values and good practice, and promoting high ethical standards.

The board is responsible for identifying and reviewing the values of the organisation, and should strive to achieve its vision and mission by creating a strategic plan that is best suited to maintaining the long-term stability of the organisation.

Every organisation should have effective leaders and a board which has the right balance of skills and expertise needed for the long-term success of the organisation and its growth.

The board must ensure its composition is balanced, inclusive and skilled, and reflects the diversity of the community it serves. Appropriate recruitment policies should be adopted to help ensure the right balance of individuals is elected to achieving their mission.

Directors must understand and comply with the legal and regulatory requirements and be aware of their fiduciary duties, financial and risk obligations as part of their role.

As guardians of the sport, the board is accountable to its stakeholders. To ensure an open and transparent culture, boards should engage with the wider sector as often as possible.

Directors represent their organisation outside of their boardrooms and therefore must engage and maintain strategic relationships with key stakeholders and other governing bodies.

The IOC’s Basic Universal Principles of Good Governance

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is arguably the most influential sports organisation globally, as all international sports federations have to comply with the provisions of the Olympic Charter (OC) to take part in the Olympic Games. Consequently, these requirements filter down the sporting pyramid to regional, national and local sports organisations. Good governance is part of the Fundamental Principles of Olympism found at the start of the OC.

Recognising that sport occurs within the framework of society, sports organisations within the Olympic Movement shall apply political neutrality. They have the rights and obligations of autonomy, which include freely establishing and controlling the rules of sport, determining the structure and governance of their organisations, enjoying the right of elections free from any outside influence and the responsibility for ensuring that principles of good governance be applied. (Current edition, in force from 26 June 2019).

Article 2.1 of the OC also states that one of the IOC’s roles is ‘to encourage and support the promotion of ethics and good governance in sport’.

As part of the IOC’s role in promoting that, each member of the IOC has to comply not only with the OC, but also with its Code of Ethics. Article 11 of the Code of Ethics (2018 edition) states that ‘The Basic Universal Principles of Good Governance of the Olympic and Sports Movement, in particular transparency, responsibility and accountability, must be respected by all Olympic constituents.’

The IOC’s Principles of Good Governance (PGG) were launched at a seminar on Autonomy of the Olympic and Sport Movement in February 2008. The PGGs are broken down into seven sections, containing 38 individual themes.

  1. Vision, mission and strategy
  2. Structures, regulations and democratic processes
  3. Highest level of competence, integrity and ethical standards
  4. Accountability, transparency and control
  5. Solidarity and development
  6. Athletes’ involvement, participation and care
  7. Harmonious relations with government while preserving autonomy

The PGG is a more holistic view of governance, very much reflecting the Fundamental Principles of Olympism approach. One example from the themes covered under the PGG is the protection of athletes’ health; this is increasingly important with the prevalence of legal actions being brought for issues such as doping and concussion.

Olympic Agenda 2020 is the strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement, which was unanimously agreed at the 127th IOC Session held in December 2014. It contains 40 recommendations covering a variety of areas. Recommendation 27 addresses the need for all organisations belonging to the Olympic Movement to accept and comply with basic principles of good governance,  in particular, the PGG:

  • Such compliance to be monitored and evaluated. Supporting tools and processes can be provided by the IOC in order to help organisations become compliant with the principles of good governance, if necessary.
  • Organisations to be responsible for running self-evaluation on a regular basis. The IOC to be regularly informed of the results of the organisations’ self-evaluations. In the event of missing such information, the IOC to request such an evaluation at its discretion.
  • The PGG to be updated periodically, emphasising the necessity for transparency, integrity and opposition to any form of corruption.

Most recently in December 2016, in furtherance of Recommendation 27, the IOC produced a detailed and comprehensive document called ‘The consolidated minimum requirements for the implementation of the basic principles of good governance’ which are also at the disposal of the National Olympic Committees. This includes a self-evaluation tool which would be useful for board members of a sports organisation to become familiar with. In particular, it can be used for evaluating the governance needs of an organisation.