Dutch government to tackle misconduct in sports
The government is taking a more active role in creating a safe sports climate and preventing abuses, Minister Conny Helder for Sport and Long-term Care announced. She plans to make Declarations of Good Behavior (VOG) mandatory throughout the sports sector and update the disciplinary law around transgressive behavior, so it is better geared to the complexity of abuses. “The culture that we have all accepted is no longer acceptable. It has to be different,” she said, Trouw reports.
According to Helder, the sports world has a lot of catching up to do in terms of creating a safe climate of integrity. “A new sense of standards” must be created, she said. “We cannot wait any longer. There has to be a change in thinking. The non-commitment is over.”
The Minister’s emphatic intervention is a break from the past decades when politicians did not challenge the self-regulating role of the sports sector and left the final responsibility with the sports umbrella organization NOC*NSF. Helder said she still attaches great importance to that autonomy but sees that “an acceleration is needed on this subject, where I, as Minister, can take control.”
In addition to making VOG mandatory throughout the sports sector, Helder wants every association to appoint a confidential contact person. Trainers and coaches must get the right pedagogical training. Helder is talking with the NOC*NSF about disconnecting the Safe Sports Netherlands Center (CVSN), where athletes can report abuses, from the umbrella organization to make reporting emotionally safer by removing conflicts of interest.
She is also planning additional subsidy conditions for the Institute of Sports Judiciary (ISR), which is responsible for disciplinary law in sports. “The ISR could have handled these relatively new cases much better,” she said. The ISR is getting extra money so more people can look at complex cases. The Minister also appointed an independent recruitment body for the new Supervisory Board to ensure diversity in the appointments.
“Let’s put our shoulders to the wheel now and set a new standard. Looking away creates shyness to act. We can’t wait another generation. A new approach is needed,” she said. “The misconduct around gymnasts has made it clear that we need to find another way to encourage people to perform well. Everyone in the Netherlands must be able to count on safe sports.”