Support for SIGA’s Reform Agenda Gathers Momentum at the International Sports Convention in Geneva

London, 10 December 2018

Experts and leaders in the sports sector recognised the necessity for an organisation like the Sport Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA) to lead the way for enhanced governance and integrity in sport worldwide, and praised the role that the coalition is playing in uniting and reforming the sporting industry.  

This was the central outcome of the Sports Integrity and Governance Conference, organised in the margins of the International Sports Convention 2018 (ISC 2018) in Swiss city of Geneva, in partnership with SIGA on 6 December 2018. The conference was one of eighteen sports conferences and seminars that took place during the ISC 2018 with over 150 speakers giving their expert analysis and insight into the most pertinent topics facing the world of sport.

The Sports Integrity and Governance Conference kicked off with a keynote speech from SIGA’s CEO, Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros who spoke passionately about the power of collective action to meet the integrity challenges facing the sporting industry and invited the audience to join SIGA’s reform agenda and be an agent of the change they want to see in the industry. A lively and interactive panel session dedicated to “Brand Value and Sponsorship” followed. Panellists, including the world’s biggest sponsor, Qatar Airways, agreed that there is a need in the industry for the “SIGA Independent Rating and Verification System” (SIRVS) and that this tool will be a huge advantage for sponsors to evaluate their sports investments.

Other highlights included Giorgio Marchetti’s keynote speech where the Assistant Secretary General and Director of Competition at UEFA provided an in depth analysis of the recent governance reforms UEFA has implemented, including stakeholder representation, and addressed questions from the audience on the Financial Fair Play rules. The panel on “Sports Betting Integrity” called for greater international cooperation from all sides of the sports betting industry to combat the challenges posed by the multinational nature of match-fixing and urged the adoption of the SIGA Universal Standards as a solution.

CEO’s and senior representatives from several sports, including football, rugby, athletics and mixed martial arts, debated what “Good Governance in Sport” means and addressed the significance of having independent directors as well as the importance of diversity of thought and inclusion. Interestingly, there was unanimous support for quotas from the panellists as they debated how to close the gap between policy and implementation.

Finally, last but certainly not least, was a keynote speech from David Chikvaidze, Chef de Cabinet of the Director-General of the United Nations Office of Geneva, who gave a timely reminder of the importance of sport as a delivery tool of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and pledged the UNOG’s support to SIGA.

For more information regarding the Sports Integrity and Governance conference including the agenda, please click here:  

Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, CEO of SIGA stated: “Sport without integrity is a shame. SIGA is committed to ushering sport into a new era. We need to join forces and be the agents of change to protect sport and the industry we love. The SIGA Independent Rating & Verification System will be a game changer and will show those that are investing in sport that sports organisations are fit for purpose. This is what the sponsors and the whole sporting industry are demanding.”

Giorgio Marchetti, Assistant Secretary General and Director of Competitions, UEFA commented: “The growing economic element of elite football is the engine that has induced deep changes in European football governance. One of the transformations football has undergone over the last twenty years is the creation of bodies representing stakeholders . . .With growing intensity, stakeholders want to be self-represented and to actively take part in processes aimed at shaping decisions impacting their own sphere of activity. . . There is no way back. . . But we are absolutely convinced that the unity of the family is the only way forward possible if we want to guarantee a sound future to our sport.”

David Chikvaidze, Chef de Cabinet of the Director General, United Nations Office Geneva gave his remarks on the importance of integrity in sport: The power of sport to shape and sustain our values is not a given. It depends entirely on whether the contest is fair. On whether fair play is respected. For sports, integrity is everything. UN Geneva found a strong partner in SIGA. SIGA’s vision of sport played and governed under the highest integrity standards, free from unethical, illicit an criminal activity, to safeguard sport’s values.”

Barbar Rahman, Senior Manager Corporate Sponsorships, CSR & SpecialProjects stated: We are SIGA Founding Members and QatarAirways is excited about SIGA’s Rating System. Thereis currently nothing out there for sponsors to evaluate their investments. Wewill use this tool when carrying out our due diligence. Ultimately, we sponsor passion. Reputational riskkeeps us awake at night. For brands, sponsorship is no longer about puttingyour logo up. It is about protecting your brand.”

Bill Glad, Head of the President’s Cabinet, European Athletics, said: “In the last three years we in athletics have made really significant and substantial strides to enhance our governance arrangements at both the international and national levels. I will be proud to share what we have accomplished and discuss our current issues and plans for the future. Just as important, I hope to learn about the efforts of the other participants. Maybe we can apply some of their ideas to our situation in what must be a continual process of development and improvement.”

Densign White, CEO, International Mixed Martial Arts Federation outlined his views saying: “I am delighted and honoured to be invited to be a part of this prestigious event. These occasions are a unique opportunity to meet individuals who are world class in their field of expertise and not necessarily in sport. Good governance is the hot topic of the moment and I like to use these events to learn and to be inspired.”

Rimla Akhtar, Chair of the Muslim Women’s Sports Foundation remarked: “Integrity, inclusion and good governance are at the heart of any society and the sports industry has its role to play in this regard.  In fact, sport has the potential to play a massive role in setting the highest standards of governance and integrity whilst benefiting from the immense rewards that result from this. The time to act is now. I am looking forward to being a part of this important panel that will discuss good governance. I hope to help explore some of the challenges, opportunities and examples that will help the industry proactively lead in this space globally.” 

Nigel Wood – CEO, Rugby League International Federation outlined: “Good governance is the foundation of great organisations. It’s a topical subject for international rugby league so I am looking forward to sharing our experience and learning from the experience of others.”

Argyro Elisavet Manoli, Lecturer in Sports Marketing and Communications, Loughborough University said: “With discussions on integrity and often the lack thereof in sport intensifying, it is time to start considering the effects this is having on sport brands and our perceptions about them, a topic which I have been researching extensively. I am looking forward to the Conference where these discussions will take place, allowing us to shed light in the less discussed repercussions of the lack of sport integrity.”

Affy Sheikh, Head of Integrity, Starlizard Integrity Services said: “Starlizard is delighted to be back at the ISCGeneva in 2018. The Sports Integrity and Governance track has always been a fantastic event and now in partnership with SIGA it promises to be even better.”

Misha Sher, WorldwideVice President, Sport & Entertainment, MediaCom stated: “SIGA have done a tremendous job over thepast few years to elevate the importance of integrity in sport and to mobilizemany of the industry’s biggest stakeholders in bringing about transformative change.  Brand safety is increasingly the main focus for the advertisingindustry and I look forward to discussing how sport can address some of thechallenges which have undermined the trust of consumers and brands alike.”