This article, written by GRC Solutions Expertise Panel member Jeremy Sandbrook and co-authored with Liz Burton, examines some of the types of corruption that has taken place within sports NGOs, why they are so susceptible to it, and what some of the potential solutions are to solving the problem.
While sport is now the dominating source of entertainment worldwide, it has a darker, shadier under-belly it just can’t seem to shake-off – Corruption. Sports NGOs are particularly vulnerable with bribery, match-fixing, extortion, doping and money laundering now common place.
Sports NGOs and ‘Corruption as usual’
It seems that barely a month passes without yet another report of corruption in sports being splashed across newspaper headlines. These include members of FIFA’s executive committee accepting bribes, a former president of CONCACAF charged with fraud and money laundering, hosting nations paying bribes to win Olympic hosting rights, match-fixing, and the IAAF’s involvement in corruption and cover ups.
This phenomenon isn’t just limited to football and athletics however, with the following examples showing just how wide spread the issue is:
- Cricket has witnessed allegations of both spot-fixing and match-fixing involving players from Pakistan, England, New Zealand, India, South Africa, Sir Lanka and Kenya. There have also been on-going match-fixing allegations made in relation to the Indian Premier League (the most lucrative cricket event in the world), with two of the league’s eight teams recently suspended for two years over a corruption scandal;
- Tennis is also currently undergoing a crisis as allegations of match fixing engulf the sport;
- Cycling has for many years been dogged with allegations of illegal doping, with the issue only coming to a head when the International Cycling Union was accused of knowingly protecting Lance Armstrong – cycling’s long time poster boy – against doping allegations; and
- Badminton, boxing, handball and other sports, including US collegiate sports, have all suffered from similar credibility gaps.
It is clear from this that there are serious underlying issues that sports NGOs need to address in order to clean up their respective sports.