School of Transnational Governance

Kicking out malpractices in football governance

Professor Miguel Poiares Maduro explains how public oversight could improve how the world's biggest sports is managed.

The beautiful game of football has become a billion Euro business. But the governance of a sports with competitions across European and international borders, lacks the transparency and decision-making processes to ward of the risk of malpractices such as corruption, match fixing, and money laundering.

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We spoke to Miguel Poiares Maduro, Director of the School of Governance. Maduro is a Professor of Law, but also an avid football fan and Sporting Portugal supporter. He used to be chair of the FIFA Governance committee and also takes an academic interest in football governance. On the 15th of October, Maduro addressed the Play The Game conference in Denver. Play the game is an initiative to improve ethics and transparency in sports.

Even in times of huge financial interests, football governance continues to be dominated by what used to be gentlemen’s clubs and associations. Maduro describes it with a telling metaphor: “It’s like having an old computer with hardware from the 1990’s having to run software of today.”

“It’s like having an old computer with hardware from the 1990’s having to run software of today.”

He goes on to paint a picture of the lack of checks and balances in football governance and concludes with a call for public oversight at the transnational level, because of the global dimension of the sport: “This oversight doesn’t replace the autonomous and private governance of football, but would require governing bodies to comply with principles of good governance.”

Miguel Maduro