SBJ/August 7-13, 2017/Opinion

The business of sports calls for sportsmanship

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S port is a unifier; it gives us stunning victories, agonizing defeats and awesome examples of human performance. Sport transcends borders, race, social class and language — it brings people together across all cultures and walks of life.

But it’s not all fun and games. A quick look at recent headlines, and fans from across the globe see allegations of corruption, scandals and conduct that falls well short of the “sportsmanship award.”

The fact is that sport is a global, multibillion-dollar business, which passionate fans and big brands invest heavily in. Mastercard, as a long-term investor, believes that through partnership we can drive out corruption and unethical behavior. This is why we teamed up with the Sport Integrity Global Alliance to support urgent and transformative change in sport, and to better guarantee integrity and “fair-play” to hundreds of millions of sport participants and fans globally.

Our commitment to financial integrity, good governance and transparency that makes us one of the world’s most valued and ethical brands should translate to our sport partnerships. We expect each organization that we associate with to share our values for the benefit of athletes, participants and fans. The more than 360 million viewers and attendees that support our partners, including UEFA Champions League, Rugby World Cup, Roland-Garros, the PGA Tour, The Open Championship, and Major League Baseball wouldn’t expect anything less.

SIGA is the first organization to bring together governing bodies and properties, brands and businesses for the betterment of sport — to help drive out unethical and illicit activity in order to implement positive, structural change. We stand united with SIGA and our fellow members to show that integrity in sport is vital to safeguard the dreams that inspire millions, and to defend the universal values that we instill in our children to play fair.

Mastercard has already added specific language into sponsorship agreements to ensure our partners operate under the same code of integrity and transparency as we do. And as a known proponent of diversity and inclusion, we only encourage and support progressive change concerning access for all fans and athletes, regardless of sex, religion, race or sexual orientation.

The time has come for positive, cultural change. Last month in Lisbon, we participated in the SIGA Sport Integrity Forum and the General Assembly and continue to take action toward its goal. I ask the readers of SportsBusiness Journal, and all sport stakeholders, to join the Sport Integrity Global Alliance alongside representatives from the European Professional Football Leagues, World Bank, Dow Jones, ICSS, Deloitte, PwC, Commonwealth Games Federation, Special Olympics, United States President’s Council on Fitness, Sport & Nutrition, Turkish Airlines and 80-plus world-leading organizations that have come together to demonstrate that the business of sport is sportsmanship.

Michael Robichaud is senior vice president of global sponsorships for Mastercard.

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