Puhe Euroopan neuvostossa / Working towards a framework for modern sports governance

Puhe Euroopan neuvoston parlamentaarisen yleiskokouksen täysistunnossa
Susanna Huovinen, MP, Finland


Mr. President, Dear colleagues,

I would like to begin by thanking both rapporteurs on two comprehensive reports. My everyday life is full of football, as my son plays and my spouse follows. Both are passionate about this sport. I, myself, have been active for several years in Finnish sport policy. Therefore, I have read both reports with great interest.

It is easy to agree with Mr Jensen’s report that everyone’s participation must be ensured in sports activities and governance. Particular attention should be paid to the involvement of women and young people. I personally hope that we could give more thought to the fact that also people with an immigrant background should be involved – and not just as athletes.

In Finland, we have tried to find ways for increasing dialogue between the sports community and decision-makers. For almost 100 years now, the National Sports Council, has acted as an expert body in issues relating to sports.

One of the main tasks of the Council is to assess the impact of sports in society in general. The Council collects for instance information on how many citizens (children and adults) take part in a sports activity regularly, and it makes assessments of how transparency and gender equality is taken into account in the work and it deals with ethical issues.

As noted in the reports, we need more international fora where decision-makers from different countries can discuss all aspects of sports governance and integrity issues. These should include also difficult topics, such as doping, grey zones of financies, match fixing and lack of transparency.

We are used to see sport as an independent activity. However, when activities are financially supported by governments, the citizens have the right to demand openness, good governance and accountability.

For me sports should connect people from different national, economic, religious and cultural backgrounds. Sports can enable different people to meet each other and strengthen mutual understanding, and this way promote solidarity, diversity and ultimately human rights.

Fair play should not only be words, but the guiding principle of all desicions and activities. As Madame Brasseur states in her report, we have a special responsibility when it comes to activities for children and young people in sports. Sports should not only be physical training but a place where children learn compassion, empathy and social skills.

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