The European Union and International Sport Organisations, the (elusive) Quest for Good Governance

Borja García García

Since the entering into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the nascent EU sport policy has constantly focused on the need to ensure the highest levels of governance and management in European sport. Good governance is one of the priority areas of the two 3-year work plans of the Council in the area of sport that have been adopted since 2011. As a result, an expert group on good governance was set up and the Council has recently adopted guidelines and recommendations on sport governance. Despite the adoption of those documents and the interest of the institutions in that area, the sporting movement's structure gives a prominent role to national, continental and international federations and Olympic committees. This forces the EU to co-operate with sport organisations in order to see its guidelines and recommendations implemented in the area of sport. Thus, this paper will explore the nature of the relationship between EU institutions and international sport organisations. It will present qualitative research (through interviews and review of written sources) in the cases of FIFA, the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency.Preliminary results indicate that international organisations are successful at resisting pressures for reform from the EU. The institutions have thus resorted to dialogue and political co-operation with these actors in order to induce self-reform. Results also suggest that the threat of a legal challenge under EU law or a common position by the 28 EU Member States. are most likely to give weight to the EU position, yielding some regulatory changes in specific governance areas, but not complete overhaul or reform.

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