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Interactions between federations and governments: An outlook

Interactions between federations and governments: An outlook

Sometimes sports federations and governments work together to create policies, but the results of these partnerships are mixed.

Ministers of sport in any given country are usually tasked with creating and maintaining cordial relationships with the local sports federation. However, different realities crop up with regards to how governments and federations make policy decisions which affect access to sports. Mega-events are considered a perfect platform for a country to earn foreign exchange while demystifying negative perspectives towards that country.

Many countries marshal support to bid for events under a cloud of resentment from the public. Issues around sports integrity spark conversations in the wake of allegations of state-sponsored doping levelled against Russian athletes in the run-up to the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In different yet similar circumstances, an athlete testing positive for EPO after that competition means that Kenya continues to be on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) watch list despite the country introducing an anti-doping law. Human rights violations plus huge public debt and spending have also drawn counter-accusations between countries and federations. Brazil was widely condemned for mass eviction of residents to construct Olympic facilities while Qatar’s preparations for the 2022 World Cup weathers accusations of mistreating stadium construction workers.

Corruption in sports is often linked with political trademarks. Various sports officials are still facing separate charges of unfairly handing hosting rights for FIFA World Cups and Olympic Games with the 2010 and 2016 showpieces being perfect case studies.

International events are subject to the local laws of the host country. Prior to Kenya losing its hosting rights of the 2018 African Nations Championships, the local organising committee was gazetted by parliament so as to start preparations for hosting the tournament.

Federations have to deal with governments from a sports inclusion perspective which means it can take on a geographical dimension. For years on end, the Tanzania-Zanzibar autonomy question has resulted in the latter lobbying for admission as a Confederation of African Football (CAF) and FIFA member. During the 2017 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup, Zanzibar Heroes players were vocal by displaying banners advocating for their admission to the tournament but CAF states that it’s impossible to have two member associations from one country. Zanzibar’s justification draws reference to the Great Britain model, where the country participates in the Olympic Games as a unified state but independently in football competitions. The East African Community, the Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) and the African Union are important bodies which can mediate the issue if proper mechanisms are set.

The above scenarios point to a need for a comprehensive multi-agency strategy whose tactics should be adopted to enhance the quality of interaction between governments and federations. This will, in turn, culminate in a mutually beneficial working relationship which can profoundly champion access to sports for all.

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Friday, August 10, 2018 - 17:10