Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

Sports Administration and Good Governance: Theory and Practice in South Africa *

Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

Sports Administration and Good Governance: Theory and Practice in South Africa *

Article excerpt


This paper is a follow up to papers delivered at the past two IASL Congresses. The first of those earlier papers examined the role of ethics as a regulator of sport. The second discussed the relationship between sport and recreation and the laws protecting the environment. This paper builds on those earlier themes and looks at the need for sports administrators to conform to good corporate governance practices. While examples will be drawn from many parts of the world most attention will be given to South Africa. In the past SA has been seen as a useful case study for investigation into racism and political change. Today SA has characteristics of both developed and developing countries and it provides opportunities for studies in corporate governance particularly in the context of professional sport.

This paper begins by asking why good corporate governance is important in society and narrows that down to an examination of why good governance in sport is important. There is a definition of good corporate governance and a distinction made between ownership and one hand and governance and management on the other. The old and the new models of corporate management are compared. The point is made that sports bodies are different from commercial trading companies while at the same time sharing characteristics of trading corporations. They share the pursuit of profit in the age of professional sport but at the same time, and unlike trading corporations, sporting bodies are deeply embedded in the life of the society and call forth deep emotional attachments. This duality is illustrated by an examination of the governance and administration of cricket, rugby and soccer. These three sports illustrate the problem arising from the fact that what was once a game is now a livelihood. Given this the question is then asked: are the accepted principles of good corporate governance and administration applicable to sports bodies? The answer is yes but the conclusion, based on the evidence, is that the old model of corporate governance in South African sport is being broken down only very slowly.


"Greater transparency and accountability in both the public and private sectors, considered essential elements of good governance, are needed to ensure equality and equity in the access to, and participation in, economic, political and social activity in all countries." "Corporate Governance," in Asia: Lessons From The Financial Crisis (UNDP, Malaysia, 2002)

"The man accused of master-minding German soccer's match-fixing scandal testified yesterday that he paid players to throw games and told the court of his frustration over his failure to rig a game in Turkey." The Star 21st October 2005 at page 23.

"major company collapses in recent years, such as Enron and HIH, have led to questions about the quality of corporate governance of business enterprises."

Council Brief, October 2005 at page 3. "Soccer s era as the country s biggest sport has finally dawned, eclipsing rugby not only in terms of the number of spectators and audiences but as a destination for sponsors' millions." Sunday Times Business Times 13 June 2004 page 1.

"Sport is too much a game to be a business and too much a business to be a game." Journal of Business Ethics, Vol.20. 1999, at page 52.

"Millions pumped into SA rugby despite elections." The Star 17th February 2006.


In the South Africa context Basson and Loubser have observed: "For the management and administration of a sports body as an association or society and for sporting events to take place, there is a need for tasks to be carried out by certain people other than the referees, coaches, players and spectators: the administrators. They are the ones who have to see to it that the aims of the sporting body are attained and that events take place, whether these be competition, recreation or other forms of entertainment. …

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