Our man in Lausanne: The 14 key purposes of International Sports Federations
December 12, 2022
The importance of international federations for the development of sports goes far beyond the administrative duties they perform for their respective sports.
The structure of an international federation offers essential benefits that enable sport to fulfil its role as a transformative agent in society.
These organisations also allow the entire sporting community, especially athletes, but also managers, staff, officials, coaches, sponsors, partners, and other stakeholders, to find a suitable platform to achieve their own goals.
To demonstrate the range and magnitude of the purposes of an international sports federation, at least 14 can be understood from the list below.
Governance allows sport to be organised within a structured organisational system, with clear, cohesive and efficient powers, functions and objectives, enabling the development of sport at different levels, scopes and dimensions.
Compliance ensures that sports comply with laws, rules and normative systems that offer greater security, predictability, transparency and ethics, and reinforces accountability in actions, objectives and results that benefit the entire community.
Technicality ensures that sports are defined by technical specifications that establish basic criteria for functionality, safety, fair competition and other requirements so that different types of athletes, at all technical levels, can play and compete in a clean, balanced and fair game.
Representation collaborates with the construction of an active and responsive leadership so that the sport is managed in a democratic, plural and legitimate way, ensuring that the most important purposes of the sport are achieved in favour of the whole community.
Growth of sport depends not only on the spontaneous willingness of athletes and entities that are involved in the practice of sport, but above all on a strategic plan that identifies the current situation and the desired outcome, implementing actions in order to achieve the vision of the future.
Organisation requires the construction of a structural system of powers, bodies and areas of action that enable a formal management, separated by subjects, themes or different scopes, creating a balance among the different stakeholders involved in sports, dividing responsibilities and ensuring an efficient management of the entity.
Recognition represents an important aspect to create, maintain and enhance the reputation of athletes, and also the other entities that are part of the community. When an athlete is recognised by a federation, his or her professional status reaches a higher and more distinctive level among other athletes.
Unity is an absolutely relevant foundation to build a sport community based on collaboration, participation, representation, interaction, and mainly on friendship, respect and common goals. Unity depends on mutual and organized joint efforts that are extremely well supported by a federation.
Participation grows as the athletes, amateur or professional, realise that the sport is organised in a structured way, because they will have more information, access to competitions, support in their activities, and above all, aspiration to grow and reach new achievements within the sport.
Safety is an important factor to ensure that athletes can practice, train, compete and experience sport in a healthy and protected way, with access to information on physical and mental health, anti-doping and training methods that preserve their careers.
Commitment in a sports organization like a federation is different from commercial entities, because a federation is subject to a series of compliance, governance and accountability rules that require its managers and especially its members to work committed toward a purpose, not toward profit, generating a sense of duty based on common interest.
Engagement gains far greater scalability in terms of scope, reach and impact when a sport is part of an organised structure within a federation system, The international federation helps the national federations which in turn help the athletes and participants, and all members, of one and the other, can access, participate and collaborate on the sport’s development in a much more positive way than if they were standing without this support structure.
The development of a community is only possible if there is a common interest among all members, and the federation system provides exactly the achievement of this goal, to unite all members around purposes that are greater than individual interests, and to build solid bonds that allow everyone to participate in the actions and activities that will be planned and implemented to achieve these purposes.
The inclusion of a sport in the Olympic Movement depends on the system of international federations, because it is necessary to demonstrate that the sport is organised, administered and systematised by an international federation recognised and qualified according to the Olympic rules, which qualifications are highly stringent in the sense that the federation must have an international dimension, present a certain number of members recognised by the national authorities, and comply with several other conditions that fulfil the Olympic values.
For all these purposes, it is clear how the International Sports Federations are fundamental to build bridges between all stakeholders, with the ultimate goal of building a better society through sport.
Michel Cutait is a Senior Executive Director, lawyer and professor. He currently works as Deputy Secretary General at World Obstacle, institutional name Fédération Internationale de Sports d’Obstacles, the international governing body for obstacle sports (Obstacle Course Racing, Ninja and Adventure Racing) and related events, where he runs the Secretariat working actively in the areas of governance, membership, partnership, development and compliance. Graduated in Law, has a Masters in Law in Brazil, Marketing in Australia and Masters in Sports Administration and Technology at EPFL (AISTS) in Lausanne, Olympic Capital. He has written 5 books, the last one called Management Performance Rio 2016 Olympic Games.