Croatia presented its roadmap developed within the joint EU – CoE project “Child Safeguarding in Sport” (CSiS). The event was organised by the Ministry of Tourism and Sport on 12 July 2022 in Zagreb, and online for the international speakers. It gathered about 60 participants.
Ms Nikolina Brnjac, Minister of Tourism and Sport, opened the event by emphasising that at national level it is necessary to ensure the synergy of all relevant parties and join forces to fight against all forms of violence and abuse in sport. She recalled that in some national statistics of the experiences of violent behaviour by coaches, it was found that young athletes are often exposed to verbal violence (about 50 % of them experienced insults) as well as to forms of physical violence (about 30%). These worrying figures confirm that action must be taken promptly. The activities planned in the roadmap aim at a comprehensive approach to ensure child safeguarding in sport and will build upon certain measures of the National Sports Programme 2019-2026.
Ms Maja Gabelica Šupljika, Deputy Ombudsperson for Children, emphasised that the roadmap developed within the CSiS project fully corresponds to the values of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and will contribute to creating a safe environment for children in sport. The implementation of the roadmap should be also seen as a way to improve the availability of sport activities for all children, including those without adequate parental care, those with developmental difficulties, migrant and refugee children etc. To achieve the goals planned in the roadmap some structural and legal changes will be necessary, not only in the sport sector, but also related to civil society organisations.
Ms Sophie Kwasny, Head of the Sport Division of the Council of Europe, welcomed the Croatian roadmap and noted that one of the most important points is the strong cross-sectorial cooperation that has been established and that includes not only governmental level with different ministries and public institutions but also umbrella sport organisations, national sport federations, experts from different universities and specialist non-governmental organisations which are ready to provide relevant expertise and services to strengthen child safeguarding in sport.
Ms Adela Čujko, CSiS project officer of the Council of Europe, presented the aims of the project and the roadmap development methodology, while Ms Anne Tiivas from Safe Sport International presented the lessons learned and recommendations.
Ms Roberta Karadža, presented the process of the development of the roadmap as well as the main aims and planned activities, with the main objective to set up child safeguarding officers.
The panel gathered Ms Zrinka Greblo Jurakić (Faculty of Croatian Studies, Department of Psychology), Ms Marija Jurčević (Ministry of Tourism and Sport), Ms Matea Horvat (Croatian Olympic Committee), Mr Jurica Jurjević (Croatian Football Association), Ms Ana Ercegović (Brave Phone - counselling line) and Ms Ana Žnidarec Čučković (Faculty of Teacher Education, Department of Pedagogy and Didactics) to discuss various challenges in ensuring a safe spot for all children. The importance of the research on the prevalence of different types of violence in sport was emphasised as well as clarifying the reasons of a low level of reporting. The activities should include raising awareness on this issue, informing and educating children about their rights and defining what are unacceptable behaviours in sport. Protocols should be developed with clear procedures in case of violence. Regarding the role of child safeguarding officers, solutions should be found for small local clubs to ensure that every child in every sports club has access to advice and support. The education and training of coaches and sport staff on safeguarding issues will be crucial and specific training should be provided for persons in child safeguarding officers roles.