Government Involvement in Sport

When is it appropriate for the Government to become involved in the organisation of Sport?

In the UK there is much Government involvement in Sport through such governmental agencies as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; UK Sport and Sport England.

These agencies will often work in conjunction with the National Governing Bodies of particular sports in relation to many issues such as the distribution of Lottery Funding, bidding for International Sporting Events and the improvement in facilities and participation in relation to the grass roots level of the sport.

There is one area, however, where Government involvement in sport is strictly forbidden and that is the organisation and the overseeing of the sport – i.e. the requirements of the national governing body for that sport.

The European Model of Sport

According to the European Model of Sport the national governing body of a particular sport will be responsible for all of the decision making of that particular sport and the organisation of that sport in that country. The National Governing Body will be required to implement the rules of the sport adopted by the Worldwide Governing Body and the European Governing Body. Accordingly this is an arena which must be free of political involvement.

Has there been any case in which a government has become involved in the organisation of Sport?

There have been two famous cases involving Government interference in sport. They are as follows:

  1. The Hellenic Football Association  

  2. The Iraqi Olympic Committee

The Hellenic Football Association

In 2004 the World Governing Body of Football, FIFA, found that the Greek Government had broken rules on the independence of members and decision making in that country.

Prior to this FIFA had issued many warnings to the Hellenic Football Association and the Greek Government that the running of the federation should be free from any kind of political involvement. The law at issue was a new law adopted in 2004 which increased government involvement in the running of the professional football leagues in Greece.

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For more information on:

  • What was the outcome of this case?
  • FIFA ends suspension of Greece
  • The Iraqi Olympic Committee
  • Independence of National Governing Body