In its session on January 25, 2023, the Swiss Federal Council (Bundesrat), the country’s government, amended the Sports Promotion Ordinance (Sportförderungsverordnung, SpoFöV) to obligate sports organizations to adhere to previously voluntary ethical rules to receive government funding. In particular, sports organizations must take measures to prevent violations of duties contained in the Charter for Ethics in Sport, prevent violations of good governance principles and rectify existing problems, implement the principles of the Charter for Ethics in Sport, and prevent accidents and injuries during exercise and sporting activities. In addition, a new independent reporting office, the Swiss Sport Integrity (SSI), and an independent disciplinary office have been set up. The amendment will enter into force on March 1, 2023. Sports organizations that receive funding must abide by the new rules by January 1, 2024.
Contents of the Amendment
The umbrella organization of the sports organizations must specify rules with regard to:
- Duties resulting from the Charter for Ethics in Sport for coaches, athletes, advisors, officials, and employees and representatives from sports organizations in order to: prevent discrimination, physical violence, exploitation, and sexual abuse; protect from excessive demands and attacks on mental integrity; and protect and promote the holistic development of minor athletes, among others.
- Good governance principles on documentation and publication of decisions; documentation and publication regarding the origin and use of funds of the sports organization; gender parity in management bodies; term limits for ranking officials of sports organizations; dealing with conflicts of interests; participation rights of athletes; data protection; and enforcement measures.
- Investigating misconduct and problems in sports organizations by an independent national reporting office and imposing sanctions by an independent disciplinary office.
- Requirements for sports organizations to take measures to prevent accidents and injuries during exercise and sporting activities, in particular regarding education, information, advice, research, documentation, and control. (SpoFöV art. 72d (new).)
The umbrella organization must set up an independent reporting office where any person may report misconduct. Anonymous reports must be possible. The reporting office investigates allegations, prepares a report, and forwards the case to the disciplinary office if needed. The Swiss Federal Office of Sport (Bundesamt für Sport, BASPO) and the umbrella organization provide monetary support. (Art. 72f (new).)
In addition, the umbrella organization must set up an independent disciplinary office, which is separate from the reporting office. The disciplinary office may impose sanctions or take measures as specified in the regulations of the umbrella organization. The BASPO and the umbrella organization provide monetary support. (Art. 72g (new).)
The amendment also contains rules to guarantee a fair procedure at the reporting and disciplinary offices. (Art. 72h (new).)
Background to the Amendment
Following reports of abuse of rhythmic gymnasts at the Swiss Gymnastics Federation, the Swiss parliament called on the Federal Council to create an independent reporting office. The Swiss Federal Department of Defense, Civil Protection and Sport (Eidgenössisches Departement für Verteidigung, Bevölkerungsschutz und Sport, VBS) tasked an external law firm with preparing an investigative report, which revealed structural problems and offered suggestions to rectify them. (Explanatory Memorandum at 1.)
Jenny Gesley, Law Library of Congress
March 6, 2023
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