Four out of five sports federations across Europe have no formal objectives related to environmental sustainability, a study on sports governance has revealed.

While 20% of sports federations could articulate objectives and actions aimed at promoting environmental sustainability, 89% failed to evaluate the impact of those policies. Around 22% of the federations claimed that they promoted environmental sustainability at sporting events they co-organise.

The National Sports Governance Observer (NSGO) tool, developed by ethical sport foundation Play the Game, revealed that of the four elements it studied to measure good governance – transparency, democracy, accountability and social responsibility – sports federations struggled with the latter the most.

Nations measured (Cyprus, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Montenegro, and Brazil in South America) scored 65% in transparency using the NSGO tool, 44% on democratic process, 51% on internal accountability and control, but only 38% on societal responsibility (see below).

On average, sports federations scored 19% on environmental sustainability, 29% on athletes’ rights, 24% on gender equality, 34% on match-fixing and 34% on dual career policies. Scores were based on 274 individual indicators across the four good governance measures.

“It is also noteworthy that the global debate on climate change seems to have very little effect on the environmental efforts of sports organisations,” states the report. “Let aside the potential impact on human living conditions in many parts of the world, climate change can have very practical implications for a number of sports in a great number of countries.”

Individual nations and sports were also graded individually. Only Denmark and Norway achieved ‘moderate’ scores when it came to environmental sustainability policy. The other nations were graded as ‘weak’ or ‘not fulfilled’.

While football received a ‘weak’ grading, the athletics, handball, swimming and tennis federations of the nations studied were all marked as ‘not fulfilled’.

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