The first meeting of the Pool of international experts on safe sport, established through the joint EU-CoE project “Child Safeguarding in Sport”, took place on 4 May 2022 in an online format.
Policy-makers, researchers and academics, specialists supporting people with lived experience of violence and abuse, (child) safeguarding officers, trainers/consultants and agents of change, including advocates and people with lived experience of violence and abuse in sport, gathered to exchange information on activities relating to safe sport and discuss possible priority areas for the pool over the next two years.
The Council of Europe presented: the Lanzarote Convention as a global tool to protect children from sexual violence; Start to Talk – a call for action to public authorities and the sport movement to stop child sexual abuse; and the Child Safeguarding in Sport project with a focus on developing country-specific roadmaps for child safeguarding in sport policies.
Sophie Kwasny, Head of the Sport Division of the Council of Europe, opened the meeting and referenced the Revised European Sports Charter that calls upon governments to take the steps necessary to enable every individual to participate in sport and to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to take part in sport in a safe, secure and healthy environment.
Members of the pool recognised the Council of Europe’s efforts to promote a safe and healthy environment for athletes and to develop new approaches and concrete tools for public authorities and sport organisations, through different projects, initiatives and activities. They expressed their readiness to support the further strengthening of safeguarding in sport and provide input to the work of the pool with their experience, knowledge and specific expertise.
Contributions from the pool may include research methodology and data to provide scientific insight for evidence-based policy, educational materials, sharing of good practices and relevant resources developed across countries and organisations, as well as the sharing of personal experiences related to violence and abuse in sport as part of awareness-raising and drawing the attention of public authorities that concrete measures to prevent and respond to all forms of violence in sport need to be taken.
Among priority areas to be addressed experts highlighted monitoring the implementation of safeguarding in sport policies; evaluation of existing measures to understand what are the challenges in different countries, what are the gaps and how to fill them in; developing indicators on safeguarding in sport to enable comparable data and the development of tools for public authorities to achieve indicators; following up decisions at European level, with a focus on criminal record checks as one of the priorities; exchange of information between public authorities as well as the exchange of information with and between sports organisations; streamlining good practices and resources and strengthening the voices of children in sport.