BIG4SPORTS Building Innovative Governance for Sport

Sport is a fast-growing and dynamic industry accounting for 1.76% of EU Gross Value Added and representing 2.12% of total employment in the EU. Acknowledging this potential, the EU has identified the economic dimension of sport as one of the priority areas for the Member States and the European Commission during the period covered by the EU Work Plan for Sport (2014-2017). One of the topics to put the focus on is the financing of sport and sporting bodies. Quoting the EC, Sporting organizations, especially at grassroots level, find themselves in a complex and changeable financial situation. While some sport organizations are economically self-sufficient, for most of them public support remains essential’. In fact, governments are increasingly making adherence to good governance practices a condition for autonomy and financial support. In addition to public funding, sponsorship from private companies is also a critical financing mechanism for sporting bodies. Accounting for 28.8% of the total sports market, sponsorship will be a key engine for growth in total revenues, with an average growth rate globally of 5.3%[1]. Indeed, sponsorships and media rights emerge as the main engines of growth, putting the traditional dominance of gate revenues under pressure. According to the European Sponsorship Association (ESA), close to 90% of sponsorship contracts in the EU are presently (referred to 2011) allocated to sport. On the other side, it is important to underline that sponsorship is not only a matter of super professionalized and top-level sports. The estimate used in the ‘Study on the funding of grassroots sports in the EU[2] is a share of 15% of total revenue from sponsorship to grassroots sports in the EU, i.e. € 1.6 bn annually.

Wherever the source of funding comes from, Good Governance (GG) in sporting bodies appears as a crucial condition to be fulfilled in order to manage external funding. Just to mention one example, Sport England clearly states in its funding criteria[3] that ‘Before we can begin to assess the quality of your project and what it will achieve we need to check that your organization is both eligible to hold a grant and can demonstrate appropriate levels of governance to effectively manage public funds’. In a similar line, sports industry will only commit in sponsorship agreements with those organizations that can prove solid levels of governance, responsibility and accountability. No business will support federations, clubs or athletes involved in corruption, doping or match-fixing scandals, to mention only some of the threats to sport integrity. It is clear that adopting new and innovative mechanisms of GG will have a direct and positive effect in the overall image of the sport organizations and likely increase the sponsorship revenues and attractiveness of the sport.

To work towards this direction and spirit, BIG4SPORTS aims at connecting funding sources (public and private) with sports organizations to jointly develop new and innovative collaboration schemes in GG for sport.


General Project Objective:

  • to strengthen GG capacities of sport organizations fruit of their collaboration with public and private sponsors, achieving long-lasting cooperation between them.


Specific Objectives, BIG4SPORTS seeks to:

  1. Jointly develop an innovative collaborative scheme to effectively enforce GG principles in sport organizations, built from the excellence of public and private (corporate) GG standards.


  1. Implement and evaluate this scheme in order to deliver a solid and tested methodology transferrable to the EU sporting community.

BIG4SPORTS brings in a permanent dialogue forum:

  1. Sports industry (companies as potential sponsors);
  2. Public authorities (source of public grants or other financial mechanisms; also referred in this proposal as public sponsors);
  • Sporting organizations (main beneficiaries of the new GG Scheme);
  1. Academic / think tank partners contributing to the conceptualization, monitoring and evaluation of the new scheme;

By establishing this collaboration, the project will capture the best and most relevant standards in terms of corporate and public governance and develop a comprehensive implementation methodology to reinforce sporting organizations’ GG capacities.

Project meetings

Kick-off meeting in Barcelona, 22nd – 23rd of January 2019

Additional information

More information about project and partners can be found in our digital brochures:

  • kick off meeting in Barcelona
  • workshop in Brussels
  • Training on EU funding
  • Succesfull China mission

Project partners:










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