Abuse of power and corruption

Sports is one of the risk areas for abuse of power and corruption. They occur in various forms at all levels of sports. Although the abuse of power is not a new phenomenon in sports, there is still little research on it at a national level. FINCIS responds to this need for information through its research and investigations.

Abuse of power and corruption have various manifestations, from criminally punishable acts to the grey area related to unethical influencing and decision-making. Often, abuse of power takes the form of giving and accepting undue advantages, conflicts of interest and favouritism. In Finland, corruption is not criminalised under separate legislation, but the criminal punishability of actions is determined based on several different laws that are also applicable to corruption cases related to sports and sports culture.

Abuse of power and corruption in sports

The corruption cases that have come to light have concerned problems in the management of sports organisations, ethical issues in organising sports events, and manipulation of sports competitions. Corruption in sports can be divided into administrative and competitive corruption.

Administrative corruption is manifested at the organisational level, such as in processes related to the selection of competition venues, competitive bidding for television rights, large-scale construction projects and official appointments. Competitive corruption, on the other hand, is linked to the activities of athletes and judges. The causes underlying corruption range from individual corrupt behaviour to the systematic manipulation of sports activities as part of international crime.

Within sports organisations and clubs, the abuse of power can mean conflicts of interest for the benefit of a decision-maker or their immediate circle, or dual roles that lead to breaching the principle of fairness in decision-making situations.

FINCIS’s role

FINCIS’s mission is to raise discussion and produce information on ethics-related phenomena in sports. The aim is to identify the phenomena and use the information in the sports community when developing operating models to strengthen an ethically sustainable sports culture.

FINCIS’s review of the versatile corruption in sports published in 2022 (in Finnish only) comprehensively sheds light on the varying forms of corruption in sports, their conceptual dimensions and the historical connections and underlying causes of the phenomenon. In 2023, FINCIS, together with the universities of Helsinki, Tampere, Turku and Jyväskylä and the Advisory Board on Ethical Issues in sports, initiated a study on good governance in sports.