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STATEMENT: Abuse in Sport

In light of recent high-profile cases of abuse in sport, the international equality, diversity and equal opportunity in sport charity, equitysport have made a short statement.

Trigger warning: This statement refers to abuse in sport.

The recent reports of abuse in Malian and Kenyan basketball, Australian swimming, and in Venezuelan and US Women's football have again rocked sport and added to the interminable list of structural failings over the past decade when it comes to sport protecting all of its participants.

All people, no matter who they are, where they come from or what their background might be, have the right to live their life, in and out of sport, free from the threat of abuse.

For too long and in too many places around the world, unscrupulous individuals have used the camouflage of repute afforded by sport to abuse positions of power and exploit systemic inequities to bring untold misery and pain upon their victims.

Sport can no longer point to the 'few bad apples' hypothesis; the problem with abuse in sport is too widespread and occurs too frequently. We have to have the courage to say we must do better and that we will do better.

The values that underpin sport and those who should be protecting them are in retreat; favouring endless symbolic gestures over real change, short term fixes over long term solutions, and performative actions over credible strategies.

Delivering on promises of safety and inclusivity in sport is a complex challenge. Whilst tempting to reduce the issue and solutions down to simple slogans and simple remedies, the evidence points to deeper, structural problems and inequities embedded within our wider society as major contributing factors to the conditions that allow abuse to occur.

Sport is a product of the cultures in which it is played, and to that end, a wider reckoning is due on the entrenched inequities that we have come to tolerate in society that provide opportunities for the morally-bankrupt to exploit.

Sport is also a source of influence in these same cultures, and our mission is now is not just to promise change, promise safety or promise inclusivity, but to confront our failings and deliver change.

We, at equitysport, have long advocated for a values-based sporting ecosystem, where the ideals that promise equality, diversity and equal opportunity take centre stage. Where wider society moves too slowly in challenging the status quo, global sport must have the courage to forge its own path ahead.

For our part in taking responsibility for a better future, we will continue to action the following:

  • Maintain our commitment to effective, best practice safeguarding policies in and through our work.

  • Maintain our commitment to safeguarding in recruitment through the continuation of thorough background checks and referencing wherever we might be working in the world.

  • Maintain a standing agenda item for the review of our internal policies at each and every board meeting.

  • Ensure that our partners around the world have safeguarding policies in place, and that they are reviewed and actioned accordingly.

  • Maintain our pledge to UNICEF to uphold the 'International Safeguards for Children in Sport' and encourage all those associated with equitysport to incorporate them into their own policies.

  • Continue to advocate and campaign for a values-based sporting world; one that dismantles outdated hierarchies and power imbalances; and provides access to sport for all people, safely and on an equal footing to anyone else.

  • Continue to foreground the role of structural inequality and inequity as one of the contributing root causes of abuse in sport and society.

Our thoughts are with those who have been impacted by the recently reported high-profile cases of abuse in sport. We understand the courage it takes to stand up to the powerful and hold them to account.

If you need help or are aware of abuse in sport, consider confiding in someone your trust, report it to your local law enforcement agency and/or your International Federation (IF) as soon as possible.


equitysport is a UK-registered values-based international charity (1189559) that exists to advance and promote equality, diversity and equal opportunity in and through global sport. Through free-form development, targeted advocacy, vocational training and education programmes the charity seeks an inclusive and equitable sporting ecosystem that lives up to the true ideals of sport.

Notes to Editors: For interviews or further comment, please contact the team via:

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