Key Challenges Facing the Integrity of Sport: Why Reform is Critical

 

Remarks by David M. Luna

President & CEO

Luna Global Networks & Convergence Strategies LLC

Sport Integrity Global Alliance

Special Session at United Nations Office

Palais des Nations

Geneva, Switzerland

November 28, 2017

Good morning.

It is an honor to be invited to speak in today’s Special Session of the Sport Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA) at the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) and its venerable grounds here at the Palais de Nations.

The Honorable David Chikvaidze, Chef de Cabinet, UNOG, Ambassador Maurizio Enrico Serra, Permanent Representative of Italy to the International Organisations in Geneva, Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, as the CEO of Luna Global Networks & Convergence Strategies LLC, and departing Chair of the Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), I am proud to be a member of SIGA’s ad Interim Council, working with The Honorable Franco Frattini, SIGA Chairman, and SIGA Coordinator Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, and other committed partners, to confront the key challenges facing the sport sector.

Let me briefly share some perspectives on why I believe that collective action is critical to safeguard integrity in sport and to ensure its future is anchored with the highest integrity standards and with greater transparency and accountability.

First, I agree that we are facing an unprecedented crisis as one corruption scandal after another is unveiled almost daily across sports around the world, including recently the vote buying and influence peddling in some of the International Sports Federations.

Second, the unabated infiltration and involvement of organized crime in sports is also testing the public trust when an array of issues such as steroids, doping, unregulated sports betting, game fixing, fraud, bribery, and blackmail further erode confidence in sports governing bodies.

Third, when criminals and unscrupulous agents recruit and exploit young child athletes for profit, many often end up being abandoned, trafficked, or enslaved.

Moreover, tens of thousands of people who are also lured by a promise of a better life to work in other countries are frequently abused and defrauded every year by trafficking networks across numerous industries associated with sports including, for example, construction for stadiums, sporting events, and as service providers within the entertainment and hospitality sectors.

It is clear: The purity and credibility of sport is at stake.  We have never needed reform in sports more than we do now.

Sports needs a wake-up call.  The public and the hundreds of millions of sports fans worldwide deserve better.

We are now at a crossroads where we can either take the easy path and embark on mis-guided, short-lived initiatives or we can take the more difficult road, inject a healthy dose of honesty into this important discourse, and provide decisive action to effectively combat the webs of corruption and criminality that today endanger the integrity of sports.

I applaud SIGA’s leadership for taking the higher road and tackling head-on with firm determination and vigor the growing number of challenges and threats to global sport integrity.

As manifested here this morning at the United Nations in Geneva, the best way to combat these pernicious transnational threats is through unity.

We can do more together.

Through our strength in numbers and collective action, we can help usher in real, enduring change.

The OECD TFCIT which I have chaired these past five years, will continue to partner with SIGA, and others, to address the economic crimes and manipulation influences of organized criminal syndicates in sport.

Working together we are also helping to stem the abuses of Free Trade Zones (FTZs) that have become attractive to the betting and gambling industries due to a lack of public access to critical company information, such as details of shareholders and beneficial owners.

We must protect our youth.  The OECD TFCIT is also working with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), the International Labour Organization (ILO), INTERPOL, and other partners globally, on combating human trafficking and modern slavery.

No child should ever have to be exploited and endure the insidious harms wrought by criminals who profit from their labor.  As the U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons annual reports have highlighted in the past the “damage inflicted by such traffickers can never be undone, but it can be repaired”.

Finally, it is very gratifying that SIGA has made the fight against corruption front and center of the global alliance’s efforts to bring greater integrity to sports.

If we are to safeguard integrity in sport, we need to root-out corruption at all levels within the industry and across broader communities.

The UN Conventions on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and Against Corruption (UNCAC), as well as, the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention can reinforce the set of Core Principles and Universal Standards that SIGA has produced in the areas of good governance, financial integrity, sports betting integrity, and youth protection.

In closing, with the support of the international community, our alliance can take active and positive steps to help bring about much needed reforms and better governance in sports.

We must rise above the fray and be vigilant guardians to ensure a culture of lawfulness for a new generation and to protect sports against the taint of corruptive and criminal influences.

Thank you.

 

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