Challenging sport integrity

We are building on university wide expertise in athlete conduct, sport law and regulation, organisational psychology and management, and globalisation and development studies to inform the systems and policies shaping sport governance nationally and internationally.

Our work in this area is timely and urgent given longstanding and contemporary episodes of misconduct amongst individual athletes and across sporting institutions, including corruption, child abuse, doping, public disorder, sexism and racism.

Through innovative and rigorous research on the causes and consequences of these challenges to sport integrity we are inspiring and supporting relevant stakeholders to improve their organisational practices. This not only enables stakeholders to better safeguard those participating in sport, but also fosters novel ways for sport to counteract problems experienced by individuals living in fragmented and violent communities across the world.

children playing football

Protecting children’s rights in professional football

Dr James Esson

There is a long history of young people being trained for and contracted to work in the football industry. Recent media revelations and policy reports have highlighted how this engagement with the football industry can expose children to emotional and physical harm and in so doing contravene or impinge their rights. This UNICEF-funded project aims to identify any regions and clubs where effective mechanisms exist to protect children from rights violations associated with recruitment to the football industry. Through doing so, the research aims to put forward regulatory recommendations and practical steps stakeholders within and beyond professional football can take to safeguard the rights of young players. In addition to articles in international peer-review journals, insights from this research have been disseminated at the 2018 World Sport Forum which was held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Delegates included the Commonwealth Games Federation, FIFA, ILO, OECD, UK Sport, UNICEF and the World Players Association.

children in Africa playing football

New Development Frontiers? The Role of Youth, Sport and Cultural Interventions

Professor Richard Giulianotti, Dr Aoife Sadlier, Dr James Esson, Professor Sagar Raj Sharma (Kathmandu University, Nepal), Dr Martha Saavedra (University of California, Berkeley, USA)

The ESRC/DFID-funded ‘New Development Frontiers’ project investigates the role that sport, cultural and educational programmes can play in enabling sustainable development in three low- and middle-income countries: Cape Verde, Nepal and Timor-Leste. Through interviews/focus groups and participatory action research with young people, we seek to: (i) enhance knowledge of these programmes with young people; (ii) improve programme efficacy in policy and practice; (iii) work with key stakeholders, to secure social change.

Across our three research sites, youths are developing dynamic networks, which incorporate sport and the arts, and seek to address sustainable development goals. Our research is enabling these youth-led initiatives to build networks, and we are continuing to liaise with their participants. In the process, we are co-creating a holistic model of development, which recognises the crucial role that young people, physical cultures, empathy and creativity can play in sustainable development.

scales with money and a trophy

Mapping of corruption in sport in the EU

Dr Argyro Elisavet Manoli

The complex and multidimensional nature of corruption in sport has created significant challenges for sport management and policy makers in identifying where the problems lie and developing actions to safeguard the integrity of sport globally.

We undertook a European Commission funded study in 2018 to review the types of corruption that exist in different EU Member States, if/how they are dealt with at national and/or international level and what kind of legal instruments that exist to deal with them and minimise potential risks. The study has sought to provide the European Commission with an overview of existing initiatives in order to identify where best to focus its efforts – and those of the Member States – in the years to come. The findings have been shared with EU member state representatives as well as key organisations such as the International Olympic Committee, FIFA, UEFA, INTERPOL, UNESCO, and the Council of Europe.