- Starts at: 16:00h
- Fee: Free
- Venue: Online
- Organiser: T.M.C. Asser Instituut
Sport is often presented by Sports Governing Bodies (SGBs), and in particular the International Olympic Committee, as apolitical. A neutral endeavor, which ignores the whims of politics and keeps governments at arm’s length. In short, it is thought of as an autonomous sphere of transnational society, which wishes to remain unaffected by the political turbulences out there. In fact, many SGBs enforce strict rules banning political speech, by individuals, and in the spaces, subjected to their contractual power. Moreover, FIFA, for example, regularly issues effective sanctions against states which are perceived as threatening the autonomy of the governance of football on their territory. Hence, this apolitical ideal of international sports is not only a founding myth of the Olympic Movement, it is actively pursued by SGBs through their private regulatory powers and has hard consequences for athletes, clubs, sport officials alike.
Yet, on 24 February, Russia decided to invade Ukraine, in what has become the most important land war in Europe since the implosion of ex-Yugoslavia. This invasion was quickly followed by condemnations from the IOC and many other SGBs, leading in many cases, most prominently by UEFA and FIFA, to the exclusion of Russian teams and athletes from international sporting competitions. This reaction is difficult to square with the neutrality and autonomy of sport so vigorously defended by the international SGBs until recently. It raises also many questions of double standards: why did this illegal invasion lead to sporting consequences and not others? Furthermore, the Court of Arbitration of Sport recently released two orders (available here and here) concerning UEFA and FIFA’s decisions to exclude Russian national teams and clubs from their football competitions, which outline the legal strategies pursued by the SGBs to reconcile the public urge to exclude Russia(ns) from international sporting competitions, and their commitments to political neutrality.
We are very happy to welcome three outstanding scholars to discuss these issues with us from different methodological perspectives.
- Prof. Carmen Pérez (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid), who wrote a blog on the reactions of SGBs to Russia’s invasion
- Dr. Daniela Heerdt (Asser Institute and Centre for Sports and Human Rights), who is the co-author of a blog mapping the reactions of SGBs to Russia’s invasion
- Carole Gomez (University of Lausanne and Institut de Relations Internationales et Strategiques), who has been interviewed by international media on the issue (see here and here)
Watch the Zoom-In: