On 5 and 6 of December, the UK hosted the 4th meeting of the IPACS Steering Committee, in London, as well as a High level event on the topic. While the Steering Committee was reserved to members of IPACS, the high level event brought together senior stakeholders from governments, sports bodies and international organisations. The aim was to showcase how the initiative is working towards practical solutions and how a coordinated and collaborative response through IPACS is fundamental to defeat corruption in sport.
The IPACS was established in 2017 following the commitment, made in the Anti-Corruption Summit in 2016, to launch an international partnership to support and strengthen efforts to eliminate corruption from sport. It is a multi-stakeholder initiative in order to strengthen and support efforts to eliminate corruption and promote a culture of good governance in and around sport.
The group is currently coordinated by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Council of Europe, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the UK Government.
Three panel discussions took place during the high level event to present different perspectives on the topic and to introduce to the participants the progress already achieved by the working groups.
The first panel gathered representatives from the sport movement, public authorities and Council of Europe to discuss the cooperation between sport organisations and governments in the field of corruption. They all agreed that corruption in sport is a shared challenge and threat for both sports and public authorities, requiring a collective response which respects the autonomy of sport whilst putting in place an agreed framework for collaboration and action. Roxana Maracineanu, French Minister for Sport and Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe stressed the importance of education and training, as well as the necessity to have a proper legislative framework in place. The question of the ratification of the Macolin Convention has notably been addressed by the panellists while the role of international and continental federations to work with their national federations, notably the smaller ones with unprofessional staff, has been stressed by Bill Beaumont, President of World Rugby.
The second panel focused on the current work done by the different Taskforces established in IPACS.
Nicola Bonucci, Director of Legal Affairs at OECD, described the activities of the taskforce 1 on “Reducing the risk of corruption in procurement relating to sporting events and infrastructure”. The group focuses on public procurements in the frame of major sport events, an area which presents a big risk of corruption activities. They have tried to collect data from 76 sport infrastructure projects in 10 countries during the past 10 years but faced huge difficulties to access the relevant documents. As a result, they realised that public procurements were often old fashion and do not take into account new criteria and challenges (e.g. design, maintenance, sustainability). They will produce toolkits for bidding and hosting organisations.
OECD is also in charge, along with ANOC, of taskforce 2, “Ensuring integrity in the selection of major sporting events, with an initial focus on managing conflict of interest”. In this taskforce, the group focuses on the bidding phase to identify not only existing but also potential conflict of interests. Their objective is to develop tools / guidelines to bidding organisations with concrete examples to establish conflict of interest policies in an early stage with prevention and sanctions activities.
The third taskforce is led by the Council of Europe, with a focus on “Optimising the processes of compliance with good governance principles to mitigate the risk of corruption”. Stanislas Frossard, EPAS Executive Secretary, explained that the group decided to start by focusing on three key aspects:
· Financial transparency (e.g. reporting)
· Conflict of interest policy (e.g. register and disclosure of interests)
· Term limits (e.g. president, ethical bodies, board)
Following these presentations, Paquerette Girard-Zapelli (Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer of IOC) reiterated the strong support of the IOC to the work of IPACS and stressed the commitment of the Olympic Movement to fight against corruption in sport.
The third panel addressed the future direction and areas of focus for IPACS. Participants stressed the need for a closer collaboration between sports bodies and law enforcement agencies and engagement with global governance forums, such as the G20, to secure the political commitment necessary to trigger a process of change.