SIGA rallies support for a mass march towards sporting integrity

By Paul Nicholson

February 1 – Yesterday they held their first Sport Integrity Forum, today the Sport Integrity Global Alliance is holding its Constitutive General Assembly that will seek to formalise its structure as a multi-industry independent coalition of sports focussed bodies (including some international sports federations).

The forum was opened by European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen who addressed the doping scandal as “betrayals of sport’s values and of the trust of millions of people, young and old.”

It was a theme carried through three panels broadly covering the good governance required of sports bodies, financial integrity and various issues around match-fixing.

A statement later issued by SIGA’s council summed the scale of the challenge up saying “the panel discussions today highlighted the scale of the work that is ahead of us…”

It is a challenge that clearly does require a co-ordinated effort and most representatives in the room recognised this. The SIGA statement said the panels “reinforced the need for an organisation like SIGA to act as a bridge and bring together like-minded organisations from across the sports industry.”

The first challenge is to make SIGA that organisation.

While the support is there for such an organisation the elephant in the room is always the role of the Qatari-funded ICSS and its money that has been the major supporter of SIGA’s development – mentioned by a number of delegate participants. That issue looks to be diminishing as others like Dow Jones and Deloitte step up with meaningful logistical support beyond the moral agreement.

Hansen said: “I see SIGA as being from the sport movement and that it and European Athletics have common interests. Therefore I want to wish you all the best with your project and I hope to work with you in the future.”

Football was generally noticeable by its absence on a federation level though Lars-Christer Olsson, chairman of the European Professional Football Leagues association, and Kimberley Morris, general manager of FIFA TMS, were both panellists.

Much of the conversation focussed on football. Getting more of football’s biggest decision makers to the integrity table is a crucial challenge for the future with SIGA having a lot more work to do to win the hearts, minds and confidence of football’s ‘reforming’ community.

The role of SIGA and its influence for the future is what is still being defined. SIGA wants to be neither a regulator or a police officer in the world of sports organisations. It does want sports federations to adopt SIGA’s Universal Standards. Already more than 80 organisations have agreed a common interest in the principals. That now needs signing up to and an increased finance base so the organisation can move on to the next logical stage of its development.

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