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European Rugby League achieves first SIGA sport integrity rating

The independent rating was announced by the Sport Integrity Global Alliance on Tuesday morning, with ERL achieving 97.3% compliance with universal standards.

The independent rating was announced by the Sport Integrity Global Alliance on Tuesday morning, with ERL achieving 97.3% compliance with universal standards

European Rugby League (ERL) has become the first sporting organisation to receive an official certification from SIGA, the Sport Integrity Global Alliance, that fights for the highest integrity standards in sport.

A review process, carried out by the British Standards Institution, an independent body, awarded ERL a Silver rating for the governing body’s compliance with SIGA’s Universal Standards.

ERL is the first sports organisation to go through SIGA’s Independent Rating and Verifications System (SIRVS) and receive this independent certification.

The Universal Standards for Integrity in Sport, adopted by ERL and assessed in the certification process, cover four key areas:

- Good governance

- Sports Betting Integrity

- Financial Integrity

- Youth training and child protection (currently under development)

Diario AS is a proud media partner of SIGA, and supports their fight for integrity in sport.

ERL achieves Silver SIRVS rating

David Butler, the General Manager for ERL spoke at a digital press conference held to celebrate the award and said ERL was proud to have received the certification. “We have not done it to be first, we’ve undertaken [going through SIRVS] to be a robust, well-governed organisation”, said Butler, explaining that his organisation went through the process to “help make what we thought was a good organisation even better. “

ERL achieved a 97.3% compliance rating in the independent review, with two areas of non-conformance being identified: directors having unlimited terms and the need to see how ERL’s diversity policy is enacted over time.

Butler explained that both these issues have already been addressed, with the ERL having changed the rules on directors terms at their recent annual meeting, for a maximum of three three-year terms, while the ERL has a diversity policy in place the effects of which should be demonstrable in the future.

Butler said ERL was looking forward to continuing with the SIRVS process - each certification lasts three years together with an annual review to ensure best practice continues to be adhered to - and that the organisation was “looking to improve our rating and continuing to push our standards.”

Butler thanked the British Standards Institution, who carried out the independent review as the independent third party to whom SIGA has commissioned the operation of SIRVS following an international public tender. The General Manager of ERL said the BSI had, “challenged us, asked awkward questions and helped us understand the framework [of the Universal Standards]. Thanks to the BSI for helping us to deliver this.”

Need for integrity in sport

SIGA global CEO Emanuel Macedo congratulated ERL on their achievement in becoming certified, “taking a great step forward and achieving such a great milestone”, and for “taking the lead in demonstrating its commitment to good governance as well as transparency, which will provide trust and assurance to its stakeholders as well as all interested parties, including fans.”

Macedo pointed out that a Silver rating is a “huge achievement” because “these standards are best in class. They are very detailed and very demanding. They are very serious and they involve a huge amount of work in implementing.”

For Macedo, the importance of the independent scrutiny of SIRVS for sports governing bodies is vital, saying that adopting the Universal Standards and going through the SIRVS review process represents a “silver bullet” that can shield sport from the many threats that surround the industry today, such as corruption, match-fixing, child trafficking and many others.

For Macedo, ERL receiving a SIRVS rating represents a “paradigm shift between talk and action, words and deeds” and he called on the whole industry to follow the example of ERL, otherwise “how can we expect fans to continue to show their passion, how can we expect sponsors to continue to invest their funding and their reputation if the industry is not willing to walk the talk?”

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF), Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and the Chess International Federation (FIDE) recently announced they are going through SIRVS.

"You wouldn’t get on an uncertified plane"

Summing up the need for independent certification in the sports industry, SIGA's CEO pointed out that nobody would want to get on an uncertified plane or live in a house that didn’t meet regulatory requirements, asking the question: “Why should sport be any different?”

All sports organizations are invited to adopt SIGA's Universal Standards, with SIGA creating the SIRVS tool to verify the level of compliance with these standards.

SIRVS is independently authored by the British Standards Institution (the oldest organisation in the world in the field, which won the public tender held by SIGA), in which a point-by-point check of compliance with the standards is carried out. After a rigorous audit, the bronze, silver or gold rating is assigned.

This rating provides protection for all stakeholders in the following ways:

- Sponsors ensure they do not get caught up in supporting an organisation/competition without integrity.

- Athletes are protected from bad practices such as abuse and wage arrears.

- The competition achieves a higher level of protection from external threats like match-fixing.

- Supporters are assured that what they see on the field is real and not manipulated.

- TV rights holders are assured that they involved with a clean product.

- Clubs are protected from money laundering, corruption etc.