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Dribbling towards corruption free sport with UNODC Youth

Author: Gabriel Tabona
Copyrights: Gabriel Tabona

Dribbling towards corruption free sport with UNODC Youth

Sport is not devoid of corruption. Does this cast aspersions on its role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals?

With the realisation that corruption is the biggest opponent hindering young people from scoring their life goals, a 2016 report by Transparency International hinting that corruption has taken refuge in sport might negate its role in contributing towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Building on the Global Program for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, UNODC Kenya (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) organised the National Youth Workshop on Good Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption in December 2018. It culminated in an outcome document to battle corruption in Kenya under four pillars: health, education, transnational organised crime and urban crime.

In pursuit of commercial gain but at the expense of talent development, some teams and confederations have engaged in match-fixing, manipulation of sponsorship contracts, bribery to win the rights to stage mega-sporting events, tampered procurement processes, state-sponsored doping, age-cheating and use of government influence to earn broadcasting rights.

Kenya has already tested the seeds of corruption in sport. Challenges experienced by local organising committees in staging events like CHAN 2018 (the African Nations Championship), which Morrocco hosted instead, the IAAF World U18 Athletics Championships, which needed last-minute inter-ministerial intervention and the Rio 2016 fiasco were attributed to inadequate facility preparation, non- payment of contractors, nepotism and fraudulent transactions.

Taking reference from 2010 FIFA World Cup and the stripping of 2019 African Cup of Nations hosting rights from Cameroon, FIFA and Confederation of African Football (CAF) face scrutiny on mega-events. Amid 2018 being declared “anti-corruption year” by the African Union, CAF, under unclear circumstances, granted Equatorial Guinea a chance to play in the 2018 Women's African Cup of Nations in Ghana, leaving out Kenya’s Harambee Starlets.

Corruption’s impact on young people is adverse. Injuries sustained by at-risk youth in poorly managed sports facilities, mean that they quit sport and become predisposed to lifestyle diseases, mental health challenges, suicide and crime if resources allocated to setting-up sporting infrastructure is plundered.

Public-Private-Partnerships can kick-start a web of interactions consisting of governments, federations, global brands, athletes, civil society and the community at large to develop synergies for a sustainable fight.

Intervening through simple sport diplomacy efforts in the form of appointing young players from the FIFA Under-17 World Cup as Goodwill Ambassadors against corruption in sport and up-scaling legacy programmes such as the FIFA Football for Hope movement can offer a sense of inspiration to maximise the potential of sport in advancing ethical living.


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Thursday, January 10, 2019 - 18:38