Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast, the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog, and a senior contributing editor at the ADCC News.

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Friday, October 09, 2015

No Holds Barred: Jens Sejer Andersen on Global Sport: Reform or Revolution? 

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

The 2015 Play the Game conference, which is held every two years, will take place October 25-29 at the Marselis Aarhus Hotel in Aarhus, Denmark.

This year's conference will be held amidst an ever-growing list of scandals in world sport, the arrest of numerous top figures in many popular sports, and mounting popular opposition in many countries to hosting the Olympics.

Thus, the theme of this year's conference is both provocative and timely: Global Sport: Reform or Revolution?

We spoke with Jens Sejer Andersen by Skype Wednesday.

While the International Olympic Committee and various sports bodies like FIFA claim to be reforming their ways, many people do not believe that they are capable of reforming themselves.

"Our question is, if these reforms fail, what's left?" he said.

"Yet we then have a revolution.

"And in many ways you can say this revolution is perhaps taking place in front of our eyes. We see ordinary citizens in democratic countries going to the polls and saying no to hosting Olympic Games in their town or in their region. We see large part of the population finding new ways of physical activity all organized outside the traditional sports framework, outside the clubs, outside the federations. They go to the private gym or they go running in the forest or they make parkour in the cities."

He noted, "All in all, the patterns of the way we practice sport and practice physical activity are changing, but the structures of sport remain the same. And if that goes on, it will automatically be a revolution."

We discussed why these major sports organizations need to be thoroughly reformed, how world sport reached a "tipping point" when the British press wrote about the controversy over the awarding of FIFA World Cups to Russia and Qatar, how the growth of the number of scandals in world sport are "still in the landslide process," the great role of organized crime in sport, how most sports organizations have "very, very bad governance" and bad structures, issues like match-fixing and doping, what can be done to improve these situations, and much, much more.

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