To help improve governance of sports federations in the Netherlands there is a structural support program within the NOC*NSF for Good Governance. Around 1 Million Euro is invested yearly to ensure that federations are supported with a wide range of activities: from knowledge base and virtual platform, to individual consult and an academy for board members. The Netherlands sports sector is very well developed and distributed: over 25.000 clubs bind some 5 Million members in regular sporting activity with over 1 Million volunteers. The install-base of governance principals for national federations and the NOC*NSF is a leading example in Europe. The knowledge that has been built on this topic is disseminated by participation in various EU projects on Good Governance:
- AGGIS project resulting in the Governance Observer
- EOC project Sports 4 Good Governance
- EOC project Supporting the Implementation of Good Governance in Sport
For reference and further information, please contact Huibert.firstname.lastname@example.org.
History and development
For the NOC*NSF and Dutch sports federations, Good Governance is an important topic. In 2004 a commission was appointed with the task of drawing up a code of good governance. It lead to the publication of 13 Recommendations for Good Governance in Sport. A long term process was started which pushed the development of good governance in the Netherlands sports sector forward. In 2008 all federations adopted the 13 recommendations on a ‘comply or explain’ bases. Moving forward, it appeared that the actual standards applied by federations varied a lot. As a result, a set of minimum requirements was defined in 2011, that all federations and the NOC*NSF were committed to. Nowadays, the NOC and all member federations are obliged to do a self-assessment on these requirements every year, with their application for lottery funding. If a federation fails to meet the requirements, no Lottery funding will be admitted.
Another effect of the initiatives in good governance is that a independent institute for sports law was created. Most national federations are member of this institute that offers advice on regulatory cases and handles disciplinary law.
A presentation on the development and contents of the good governance code as part of the S4GG project can be found here.
Since 2004 it has been a structural process of development. Although all organizations that receive Lottery funding in sports now meet the minimum requirements, there is still a lot of drive for further development. There is a frequent review of regulations that are aligned through these requirements. In the last few years new model regulations were added about sexual harassment, complaints and match fixing. Also, in 2016 an obligation was added for a yearly self-evaluation of the board, to ensure that the actual behaviour of board members are aligned with governance code and regulations. But to the side of this, a few of the minimum requirements have been dropped, because they have been fully implemented over the years.
Uncertain future of governing systems
In sports, just like in regular business society, there are radical and fundamental changes happening, on a social, economic and technological level. As a result, many sports federations are struggling to bind sporting members, volunteers, as well as good board members. It is unclear how the voluntary democratic structure of sporting clubs and federations will evolve over the coming years. To address these changes and forthcoming challenges, the NOC*NSF and National Federations have started a project called ‘Transition in Sport’. Part of this project will be about the structures of our organizations and their governing principles. It may well be that in the near future some radical changes may be needed to ensure the autonomy of sports in the Netherlands.