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Giulio Nessi: World sport should look to OECD model for restoring integrity

The international sport community is going through a turbulent time that has nothing to do with the results of any club or national team.

Major corruption allegations and investigations in many sports including football, athletics, cricket and tennis have raised deep worldwide concerns and disappointment over sport governance, events organization, and integrity of competitions.

The recent scandals shed light on the pervading detrimental effects of sport corruption, which undermines the trust and passion of supporters and players all over the world and leads to unsustainable projects and poor-quality infrastructures for communities hosting international competitions.

Given the interdependence of sport with different aspects of life and society, addressing integrity and anti-corruption issues in such a crucial sector would restore trust within the sport community worldwide. It would also allow a more transparent functioning of influential organizations and bring more valuable and sustainable investments for nations hosting major events.

Most importantly, fighting corruption at the top levels of sport can send out a strong message of integrity for virtually every country of the world and trigger consciousness within communities about good governance and ethics in public life.

To advance this process, lessons could be drawn from the extensive work of the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) on anti-corruption and integrity issues.

OECD instruments and principles on propriety standards in public life, conflict of interest and lobbying could support sport organizations in promoting structural instruments, processes and controls that directly stimulate ethical behaviours and prevent corruption.

And OECD work on integrity in public procurement and public investment — as well as the experience gained from monitoring world-class projects such as the Universal Exhibition Expo Milano 2015 and the new Mexico City International Airport — could help address the corruption risks throughout the entire process of events organization.

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The link between sports and good governance will be discussed by international experts and practitioners during the 2016 OECD Integrity Forum called “Fighting the Hidden Tariff: Global Trade without Corruption. It will be held on April 19-20, 2016 and will feature presentations and debates covering the most pressing issues of the current international anti-corruption agenda.

Among the presenters will be FCPA Blog senior editor Andy Spalding, discussing his upcoming ebook on Brazil’s anti-corruption movement and the Rio 2016 Games.


Giulio Nessi is a Junior Policy Analyst with the Public Sector Integrity Division of the OECD in Paris.

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