Panellists emphasise need for sports transparency in EU Parliament debate

30 June 2017
Public

Participants in a recent European Parliament debate, including MEPs, issued a call for greater transparency and accountability within sports organisations.

The European Parliament Sport Inter-group discussion, which was focused on the functioning of the international transfer market, broadened into a wider debate on the governance of sports organisations.
 
Participants criticised the growth of match fixing and illegal gambling and the influence of opaque intermediaries.
 
Virginie Rozière, a French Socialist MEP, said: “I can only say that we support the idea of transparency and accountability of all organisations in the field of sport”, affirming that this was a position shared by the Parliament more generally.
 
Rozière was responding to a question from Diogo Guia, of sport integrity non-profit the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS).
 
Guia said that match fixing is undergoing “astonishing growth” and that its value combined with illicit gambling activities was reaching into trillions of dollars annually. He spoke of the right of citizens to demand “the end of opacity” and for transparency, asking the panellists if it was not the time to “put on the table the main basic rules that we all have to be bound by”.
 
The European Commission, the EU's executive body which has only limited competence on sport, is keen to encourage rule changes on good governance in FIFA and other sports international organisations. 
 
Guia asked for “a little bit more speed” from the Commission taking action, suggesting it may be the time to work collectively to set standards on financial transparency, financial integrity and transparency surrounding agents.
 
Roberto Branco Martins, managing director at the European Football Agents Association (EFAA), reiterated a call for greater transparency amongst agents.
 
To Tony Higgins, European division vice-president at players association FIFPro, football has an obligation to fans to be more transparent. “Football demands, particularly as regards the fans, some degree of transparency, to know exactly what’s going on in terms of their hard-earned cash and buying season tickets,” he said.
 
David Frommer, senior strategic advisor at the European Club Association, a body recognised by FIFA and UEFA that represents European football clubs, backed the call for a changes in the rules governing sport at the European level, but suggested there should be “evolution” not “revolution”.
 
He said: “Recent history shows that the football industry, the football family has not been the best at keeping order within itself. Unfortunately I’d like to say full autonomy and that we sit together to find the solutions but the reality is we’re not finding the solutions. Sometimes we need external pressure, whether from the EU or sometimes the FBI. And it’s only when they come in and put real pressure that real change has come about.”
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