Sports Security Group Launches Financial Transparency Initiative

As the international investigation continues into the widespread corruption that plagued soccer’s governing body, a global sports security association launched an initiative that it hopes will prevent other sports bodies from becoming the next FIFA.

There’s no denying that sports are big business, both here in the U.S. and on the global stage. The NFL, for example, raked in about $12 billion in revenue in 2015, while the governing body of the other football, FIFA, brought in a little more than $2 billion during the 2014 World Cup.

FIFA is just the tip of a very large iceberg. When it comes to financial impropriety, a troubling range of phenomena pose a direct threat to the integrity of sport.

But while sports leagues around the globe are known to attract serious dollars and provide billions of fans a source of entertainment, they’re also viewed as incredibly corrupt organizations. (See the scandal involving the aforementioned soccer organization.)

That’s where the International Centre for Sport Security hopes to step in.

ICSS, a relatively young nonprofit organization founded with a mission to improve security, safety, and integrity in sports, announced its new Financial Integrity and Transparency in Sports (FITS) initiative at a press conference in Washington, DC, last week. The initiative will involve a research project and a policy program to help develop solutions to the financial and governance issues that ICSS said plagues the sports community.

“FIFA is just the tip of a very large iceberg,” said Chris Eaton, executive director of sport integrity for ICSS and former FIFA head of security. “When it comes to financial impropriety, a troubling range of phenomena pose a direct threat to the integrity of sport.”

Those threats, Eaton said, include money laundering, tax evasion, illegal betting, and fraud. He said FITS will look to address these issues as well as the lack of oversight and regulation of sports governing bodies. “Sport is a multibillion-dollar business, and now is the time to make sure sports bodies behave and are regulated more like multinational corporations to ensure they operate in a democratic, legitimate, transparent, and accountable manner.”

Part of the initiative will include a first-of-its-kind global forum held in Geneva, Switzerland, in September. There, the results of the FITS Project will be shared with leaders in the sports, finance, and government communities.

“We urge leaders in sport from the U.S. and around the world to join us at the forefront of the fight for effective financial integrity and transparency in sport,” said Emanuel Medeiros, CEO of ICSS Europe, and former CEO of the Association of European Football Leagues. “Through a powerful combination of independent and rigorous research, coordinated action, and strong leadership, the FITS Project will be a defining initiative for the whole of sport. We hope it will usher in a new era of financial integrity and ensure sport’s credibility and future development.”

The full set of recommendations from the findings of the FITS Project will be released by early 2016.


Rob Stott

By Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. MORE

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