Sporting heavyweights launch Australia’s first Governance in Sport Program

Basket ball

Former NSW Minister for Sport and Recreation, Kevin Greene and NSW Sport Federation  Chief Executive Darren Simpson will launch Australia’s first Governance in Sport Program in a robust panel discussion on complex issues in sports governance in Sydney on Friday 15 September.  

Developed by Governance Institute in partnership with elearning provider etrainu, Working in Sport Essentials (WISE) provides fundamental governance knowledge for anyone involved in a sports organisation or team, including grassroots volunteers, committee members and directors of sports clubs and managers and executives of sports organisations.

This online course is designed to instil a broad understanding of governance and the confidence to carry out good governance practices. Across seven modules, WISE addresses the essentials for anyone involved in sports governance ensuring they have the skills and confidence to lead their organisation as a board or committee member. Ranging from an introduction to governance to a board performance assessment, modules include financial management as well as duties and the function of the board.

Never has there been a time where governance in sport has been so important. The Australian sports market is evolving from the grassroots. Australia has approximately 4.5 millon sports club participants nationally and an estimated 250,000 committee members, while 20.5 million participate in a sport at least once per year.

We have seen enough examples of governance lapses by sporting bodies to appreciate that without impartial governance, sports do not grow — they just decay.

You may recall as the Australian Open got underway in Melbourne in January last year, a report of an investigation by the BBC and BuzzFeed News found that the governing bodies of tennis had been warned on more than one occasion that a group of male players ranked in the top 50 had been involved in widespread match-fixing over a number of years. Despite the compelling evidence the report contends, the governing bodies allowed the players to continue competing. The suspected match-fixing had been organised by gambling syndicates operating out of Europe. Despite investigators calling for a disciplinary investigation, the governing bodies of tennis took no action. It was only after the release of the report the governing bodies of tennis announced an independent review into their anti-corruption unit. 

But confidence in the integrity of the sport took a hit, and concern was expressed that, yet again, sports’ governing bodies had been ‘asleep at the wheel’ when it came to oversight of proper processes to mitigate against corruption and misconduct.

The loss of confidence in the governing bodies of tennis followed revelations of corrupt activity in 2015 by members of FIFA’s governing body. What started as an investigation by the United States Department of Justice into bribery concerning broadcast rights became a full-scale investigation of FIFA as a whole.

Then came the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) second report on doping and corruption in athletics, showing that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had inadequate governance processes in place to prevent corruption.

But it’s not just global sporting bodies plagued with governance malfeasance. Once again Australian football is in turmoil. As things stand Football Federation Australia has until 30 November to find a solution on its own before FIFA intervenes. In July, two days of talks, observed by a FIFA delegation, failed to break the impasse. These negotiations were seen as the last realistic hope of a straightforward resolution to the conflict. 

In another code, departing Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver says it's time for a clean slate following the prolonged decision to axe the Western Force from the Super Rugby competition.

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