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Thursday, December 19, 2013

No Holds Barred: Jens Sejer Andersen on Good Governance, Democracy, and Corruption in Sport 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again spoke with Jens Sejer Andersen, the international director of Play the Game.

Based in Denmark, Play the Game is an international conference and communication initiative aiming to strengthen the ethical foundation of sport and promote democracy, transparency, and freedom of expression in sport.

The Play the Game 2013 conference was held October 28-31, 2013, in Aarhus, Denmark, with 148 speakers addressing many of the burning issues in world sport. All the conference presentations are now online.

We spoke with Jens Sejer Andersen by Skype on Tuesday.

Among the many key areas of interest and issues which he identified as being focused upon at this conference were: match-fixing, especially in international football (soccer); "mega-events: what are they good for?"; "the quality of sports governance, the quality of the sports leaders, their honesty"; "doping as a permanent item on the international agenda"; and the "whole concern about which interests is sport serving".

Describing this as "the best conference we've had so far," he also explained that there is more "public involvement" in the fight for good governance and against the various forms of corruption in sport than ever before. One of the many examples of this was the popular uprising in Brazil earlier this year against the corruption and massive government spending on the 2014 FIFA World Cup while the needs of the people were not being met.

We also discussed how the "sports-business complex" uses mega-events to their advantage and often against the interests of the majority of people; the issue of rights for LGBT people in Russia and the upcoming 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics; who are the new and current "superpowers" in world sport; the exposure in the media of horrific working conditions for those involved in the construction of facilities for the 2022 Qatar World Cup; the lack of democracy and good governance in many of the international federations which are affiliated with the International Olympic Committee; how it is "outrageous" that safety for athletes is not the number one issue in many sports; allegations of corruption in some of the lower-profile sports such as weightlifting and wrestling; the growing problem of many youths not being involved in sports at the grassroots level and having sedentary lifestyles; the role of the sports media; and much, much more.

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