Code of Ethics and Sport – Fair Play and the Protection of Children and Young People

The Notion of Fair Play

The notion of fair play is something which is integral to all sports regardless of what level of the sport is being participated in. It can range from the participants on the pitch to the fans and is something that is continually promoted by both World and National Governing Bodies of a particular sport. For example the fair play campaign run by the World Governing Body of Football FIFA is one of the most long standing and successful campaigns in the world of sport.

Not only is fair play important within the context of playing the actual sport but it is imperative then when dealing with children and young people entering into a possible career in sport they are treated fairly and gain enjoyment from the sport not being used simply as a means to an end.

The Unicef Code of Sports Ethics

What is the Unicef Code of Sports Ethics?

The main principle of the Code of Sports Ethics is to ensure that ethical considerations leading to fair play are integral elements of sports activity, sports policy and management – not simply optional elements. It must apply to all levels of ability and commitment which includes recreational as well as competitive sport.

The primary focus of the Cod is Fair Play for children and young people as it is recognised that children and young people of today are the adult participants and sporting stars of tomorrow. The Code is directly aimed at the institutions and adults who have a direct or indirect influence on young people’s participation and involvement in sport at all levels.

What is meant by Fair Play?

Fair play is not simply playing within the rules of a particular sport it is defined as much more than that. It is taken to incorporate the concepts of friendship, respect for others and playing the game within the right spirit.

Fair play incorporates issues concerned with the elimination of cheating, gamesmanship, doping, violence, sexual harassment and abuse of children, exploitation, unequal opportunities, excessive commercialization and corruption.

What does the Code of Sports Ethics say?

The Code of Sports Ethics ensures that fair play must be given the highest priority by all of those parties who are directly or indirectly involved with sport or who influence and promote sporting experiences for children and young people. The following parties therefore fall with the scope of the Code:

  • Governments
  • Sports and Sports Related Organisations
  • Individuals

Governments have the following responsibilities under the Code of Sports Ethics:

    To ensure that they encourage the adoption of high ethical standards in all aspects of society in which sport operates To both stimulate and support organisations and individuals who have demonstrated sound ethical principles in their work within sport To encourage the education industry to promote both sport and fair play as a central part of the national physical education curriculum To support and introduce initiatives aimed at promoting fair play in sport amongst children and young people To encourage institutions to place fair play as a central priority in their work To encourage research on both a national and international scale in order to improve understanding of the complex issues surrounding young people’s involvement in sport.

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  • Individuals