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National Sports Code

  • Published
    14th Jun, 2022
Context

The Delhi High Court summoned the joint secretary of the sports ministry for overlooking the violation of the National Sports Code by the federations.

Origin

  • The government constituted panel to draft National Sports Development Code initially.
  • In this former Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra, legendary badminton player Prakash Padukone and athlete Anju Bobby George were the part of a nine-member government panel formed to make recommendations for bringing out a comprehensive National Sports Development Code across all disciplines.
  • The committee will be headed by Sports Secretary and will study issues related to sports governance, including court judgments and best international practices.

Role of the Committee:

  • Identify basic universal principles of ethics and good governance based on the – IOC Charter international best practices – Draft National Sports Development Bill – National Sports Development Code, 2011, – Supreme Court and High Court judgments, etc.
  • To identify issues pertaining to good governance in administration of sports in the country.
  • To make specific recommendations for bringing out a comprehensive Sports Code to address the issues of governance pertaining to the National Olympic Committee.

 

Analysis

What is the Sports Code?

  • It is a set of regulations passed by the government in 2011, which enunciated the ‘basic universal principles of good governance, ethics and fair play.’
  • The Sports Code seeks to put restrictions on the age and tenure of the office-bearers of federations apart from envisaging transparent functioning along with free and fair elections.

What is the legal status of the Code?

  • The Code was notified by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India (Government) in 2011, with an aim of bringing together all notifications and instructions pertaining to good governance of National Sports Federations.
  • Various High Courts and the Supreme Court have upheld the binding nature of the provisions of the Code.

What entities are covered by the Code? 

  • The Code largely governs the functioning of national level sports governing bodies, officially termed as "National Sports Federations" (NSF).
  • Under the Code, NSFs are fully accountable for the management, direction, promotion, and sponsorship of the discipline for which they are recognized by the relevant International Federation.

What are the benefits of recognition as an NSF?

  • While the Code treats NSFs as autonomous bodies, government recognition is necessary for them to represent the country.
  • Recognition is also necessary to obtain government funding and enjoy the various facilities/concessions that the government provides.
  • NSFs officially represent the country in international sporting events are authorized, through this recognition, to use the word "India" in its name.
  • In addition to this, the government also provides funding to NSFs with recognition.
  • Other financial concessions are also provided to NSFs in the form of customs duty exemptions, tax benefits and special dispensation to remit funds abroad.

Who is responsible for ensuring that the federations follow the Sports Code?

  • The government is responsible for ensuring that all federations are compliant with the Sports Code.
  • In 2014, a Delhi High Court bench held that the government can insist upon adherence to these provisions (sports code), without the aid of legislation and the sports code provisions were ‘neither arbitrary’ nor did they ‘violate any freedom under the Constitution.’

What are the consequences of not following the sports code by the Court?

  • A federation that does not follow the guidelines should be suspended.
  • Additionally, also suggested that grants given to the federations should be stopped.

What are the issues?

  • There are in total 41 national federations, which are found accused of not following the National sports code.
  • There are three of the main points of dispute in the NCGGS 2017:
    • The ban on politicians serving as board members in national sport federations (NSFs);
    • The age limit of 70 years for board members in NSFs; and
    • The four-year cooling-off period to be served after two consecutive terms for board members in NSFs.

What can be the way ahead?

  • Globalization of Sports governance: Sports should be made universalised for making it a Global issue for violations by the federations.
    • Global alliance should be allowed to make regulations regarding the issues with laws of several countries.
  • Arbitration panel: By forming other means of arbitration panels can benefit the cause and save time of courts on matters related to sports.
  • Involvement of more sport experts: the lack of sports related persons in law making and committees bring a challenge for stakeholders to get the benefit of provisions to the fullest.
    • Hence involvement of sports person in decision making is important.
  • Sensitize the cause and educate people regarding sports: Many a times sportsperson are not even aware of their rights and privileges.

Conclusion

The issues plaguing the sports arena are numerous. If we don’t get rid of these as soon as possible, sports would become devoid of the most important things which include fairness and safety of the players. This rampant commercialisation and selfishness is killing the spirit of sportsmanship. If we want to witness the sports in their true spirit, we need to protect our sportspersons from becoming the victims of selfishness of sponsors, coaches and clubs. It is important for the government to promote its national sports and culture and raise it to international standards. This will pave India's way forward into the exclusive league of developed countries across the world and open new avenues for our players.

Practice Question

Q1. What is National Sports Code? Discuss its significance in ensuring progressive growth of sports in India.

Q2. Discuss the role of sports in diplomacy. What measures are needed to make India a sporting superpower?

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