Inaugural Regional SportAccord Targets Governance Issues

December 11, 2019

Frank discussion of governance themes figured prominently on the conference programme as the very first Regional SportAccord event opened today in Fort Lauderdale.

Mayor Dean Trantalis welcomed delegates to the Florida city, where David Beckham’s new MLS team, Inter Miami CF, will play its first season in 2020 in a refurbished 18,000-seat stadium.

Fort Lauderdale is investing $40 million in upgrading its swimming infrastructure and the mayor said that he is also hoping to build a half-pipe for skateboarding.

SportAccord Regional Pan America is taking place at the Greater Fort Lauderdale / Broward County Convention Center, which will soon be transformed as part of a massive $1 billion project to transform the city as an event destination.

SportAccord President Raffaele Chiulli, President of the Global Association of International Sports Federations, set the tone for the day’s proceedings with opening comments stressing the critical role of sport as a positive force in wider society.

In a presentation on the changing global landscape of sport, Andrew Ryan, Executive Director of the Association of Summer Olympic Federations, pointed to the growth and ageing of the world’s population as one of the key global trends impacting sport, with mass events and masters sports competitions growing in importance.

Governance of the IFs has been improving over the years. A dozen years ago, for example, only a handful of the federations published their accounts. Now almost all of them do.

But that’s a “quick fix,” he said. “The most difficult thing to do is to change the culture of governance.”

Chiulli agreed. The biggest barrier to change is the “mindset” that doesn’t see the need for long-time practices to change. He added that the process of improvement needs to be from the top down.

Stephan Fox, President of the Alliance Independent Recognised Members of Sport, who joined them on the opening panel said a public perception that governance is poor is a challenge to deal with and one that is not really fair.

“The number of bad eggs is actually very small,” he said. “The media should do a better job of highlighting the good things that sport does.”