First top speakers announced for Play the Game 2019

Photo from session at 2017 Play the Game conference
Photo taken at Play the Game 2017 by conference photographer Thomas Søndergaard.

Key themes of Play the Game 2019 emerge as the first round of speakers are confirmed for the international conference Oct. 13-16 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The 11th edition of Play the Game, entitled “Athlete Power on the Rise,” will cover significant issues affecting world sport, to include:

  • Sports governance: Tracking the voice of the athletes
  • Anti-doping: Can the confidence crisis be overcome?
  • Corruption and crime in sport: Too big to tackle?
  • Children at risk: Protecting athletes against abuse
  • Breaking monopolies: Can anybody own a sport?
  • Rethinking sport and physical activity: Time to play again?
  • Breaking news or faking news: The industry of integrity

A new partnership between Play the Game and UCCS will bring the conference across continents for the first time in its decade-long history.

“We are delighted to be hosting the first Play the Game conference outside of Europe,” said Spencer Harris, assistant professor of sport management, UCCS. “The conference provides an inclusive and open debate on the major issues confronting international and domestic sport governance. We have a wonderful line-up of internationally renowned speakers and we will be adding more high-profile names in the next few weeks.”

One of the first identified presenters is the former head of FBI action against FIFA, Evan Norris. Norris will share insights and expertise on investigations into global sports organizations. He was the lead prosecutor for seven years on the FIFA case, which resulted in charges of fraud and money laundering against the world’s largest soccer governing body.

The highly publicized U.S. Gymnastics scandal brought athlete abuse to the forefront of sport criticism, but cases of sexual assault in sport have been occurring for years. A champion for athlete safety in the United States, Nancy Hogshead-Makar, is confirmed to speak on abuse prevention, accompanied by both survivors and experts.

Familiar faces to UCCS and the Colorado Springs community, Russian whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova and her husband Vitaly Stepanov will speak on their efforts to expose doping in Russian Olympic sport. Yuliya was a member of the Russian national track and field team and Vitaly served at the Russian Anti-Doping Agency. Together, their revelations into the Russian doping scandal caused a ban on Russia’s Track and Field Team’s participation in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Other anti-doping representatives confirmed to speak at the conference include Beckie Scott and Robert Koehler. Scott is the outgoing chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency Athlete Committee. Koehler, the former director of WADA, is now heading the campaigning organization Global Athlete.

Some other major names on the speakers’ list include:

  • Declan Hill, PhD, professor, University of New Haven
  • Hajo Seppelt, head of investigative team, ARD
  • Ivan Miljkovic, former volleyball champion, General Manager, ACPV
  • Jesper Møller, UEFA ExCo member and president of the Danish FA
  • Sarah Lewis, secretary general, International Ski Federation
  • Tom Farrey, journalist, Aspen Institute, USA

In total, at least 120 speakers are expected for the four-day conference. Since the initial call for papers, at least 75 abstracts and storylines have been submitted.

“It is a satisfying number that lays a solid foundation for the conference program,” says Jens Sejer Andersen, director, Play the Game, who nevertheless stresses that the conference has room for more presentations.

Play the Game now welcomes additional abstract submissions. Abstracts and storylines delivered will be reviewed in a rolling procedure, but cannot be guaranteed a timeline for the review nor an optimal place in the program.

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