Skip to main content
ASOIF
16 Jun 2020

Third Review of IF Governance reveals significant progress, challenges remain

The Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) today published the findings of the third governance review of its full and associate member federations. Almost all International Federations (IFs) improved their performance since the last assessment, with the highest scores achieved in the area of transparency. Thirty-one IFs replied to the updated self-assessment questionnaire between November 2019 and January 2020. An independent sports governance consultancy I Trust Sport reviewed the responses and moderated the scores. The aim of the project, led by ASOIF’s Governance Task Force (GTF), is to promote a culture of good governance within IFs and monitor progress.

The IFs were asked to check their governance against 50 measurable indicators covering five sections: Transparency, Integrity, Democracy, Development and Control Mechanisms. Then I Trust Sport moderated the self-assessed scores following a thorough evidence-based evaluation. The questionnaire was slightly revised for 2019-20 with the aim of ensuring it was up to date but also remained comparable to the earlier editions.  It incorporated two new indicators on safeguarding and on data protection / IT security.

IFs were divided into groups based on their total score and for the first time, the performance of each IF is made public. There are still large gaps between the best and weakest IFs.

ASOIF President and GTF Chair Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “A lot of progress has been achieved over the past years and the overall trend is clearly positive. Certain reforms take longer to be implemented as they require changes to the statutes or the approval of the General Assembly. The results we are sharing today are a snapshot of the current commitment of the IFs.”

He added: “The environment in which IFs operate has become more complex and subject to more scrutiny. The global health crisis further complicates the situation. Sports need to be well-governed to give themselves a better chance of thriving. It is my hope that the momentum will be maintained to tackle a number of areas where there is still significant room for improvement.”

Key findings of the third IF governance review include:

  • The target of 26 out of 28 Full Members reaching an overall score of 120 (out of a theoretical maximum of 200 – 50 indicators each scored out of 4) has virtually been met with 24 out of 27 that took part above the threshold, two very close to that level and one below it.
  • Nearly all of the IFs show improvements since the most recent assessment in 2017-18. Eighteen of the 31 IFs have improved by 20 points or more, a further nine have gained more than 10 points.
  • The four Associate Members that participated in the study have also advanced, albeit at uneven rates, with two now scoring well above 100, one close to that level and one below it.
  • The Transparency section was the highest-scoring overall, with high average scores across the full set of IFs. E.g. 25 out of 31 IFs published at least one set of annual, externally audited accounts, an increase from two years ago. Sixteen IFs published some type of policy regarding allowances and expenses for officials and senior staff – compared to nine IFs in 2018.
  • Regarding confidential reporting mechanisms for whistle-blowers, 15 IFs provided at least an email address or online reporting form offering anonymity. A further 11 could demonstrate that a system was in place and that action had been taken in response to reports.
  • One IF had a board that was more than 40% composed of women; 12 IFs had between 25% and 40% female representation, plus rules or a policy to encourage better gender balance; 10 IFs were between 15% and 25%; and 8 IFs had a board with the proportion of women below 15%.
  • Fifteen out of 31 IFs were able to show that they had a safeguarding policy consistent with IOC guidelines that was being implemented. Eleven had a policy but it is very recent. Five IFs had not yet adopted a policy but were working on one.
  • IFs are paying growing attention to sustainability issues. Sixteen IFs implemented specific measures, up from nine in the 2017-18 review.
  • The lowest-scoring indicator is the one on term limits, partly because as many as nine IFs have no term limits for elected officials and therefore scored 0.
  • IFs with term limits demonstrate higher average scores.
  • Similarly, a number of IFs do not have an audit committee of any description and some of those that are in place lack independent members.
  • The other low scoring indicators on the list might be said to be among the “harder” topics for smaller IFs to implement, requiring more work: provision of legacy programmes, tendering exercises and monitoring the use of distributed funds.
  • The study has shown that there is a correlation between higher scores in the assessment and IFs with greater resources in terms of staff and financial revenue, but there are also exceptions and it is possible to achieve high standards with under 20 staff.

Click here to read the full report.

As governance is a constantly evolving concept, the ASOIF GTF will continue with the project, distributing good practice examples drawn from the study and offering meetings with individual IFs to review specific findings. A pilot study on organisational culture in IFs is also being planned.