26 July 2017; Lisbon: Leading sports marketing consultant Michael Payne challenged sport to “adapt or die, but also adapt to thrive” in order to protect itself from the most serious challenges it has faced in a generation. Payne, the former IOC Marketing and Broadcasting Rights Director, was addressing over 100 sports industry leaders who had gathered for the SIGA Sport Integrity Forum in Lisbon, to tackle the grave governance and integrity issues tarnishing sport. While there is no doubt about the extent and seriousness of the current crisis, Payne emphasised that “it also presents a watershed moment: an historic opportunity for sports organisations to rebuild their relationships with their fans and to promote the true values of sport in society.” The SIGA Sport Integrity Forum drew influential leaders from around the world to address this opportunity and identify solutions to the problems sport currently faces. High profile and prominent speakers from sport, government, international and regional organisations, civil society and the commercial and professional service sectors engaged in lively and informed debates on the most effective reforms needed. IMMAF CEO Densign White (pictured above on stage, far left) was among the speakers, anticipated to discuss some of the governance obstacles MMA has experienced in its quest for recognition to protect the sport and its participants. The IMMAF chief executive was accompanied by Luis Barneto, executive director of the Portuguese MMA Athletic Commission – Comissão Atlética Portuguesa de MMA (CAPMMA). Speaking following the Forum, the SIGA Council said: “We are living in a critically important time for sport and particularly the future of sport. What was clear from today’s excellent SIGA Sport Integrity Forum is that there are many like-minded people and organisations around the world who are committed to playing a positive role in shaping this future for the better. Doing nothing is not an option. As our keynote speaker said today we must adapt or die. “SIGA was created to act on this need for change and serve as a bridge for stakeholders across the sports industry. SIGA was established to assist sport and not compete or overshadow it. We do not want to police sport but to encourage it. There is no alternative; change will only be implemented through collective action. Today we have reinforced our commitment to this action and the belief that we not only have the solutions to the problems, but the power to enforce them.” The Forum was held in the historic Palacio Foz in Lisbon and was focused on five themes:
- Good Governance in Sport: From Rhetoric to Effective Reforms;
- Following the Money! The Pathway into Financial Integrity in Sport;
- Sports Betting Integrity: Global Solutions to Global Threats;
- Youth Development and Protection of Minors in Sport; and
- Sports Business, Brand Value and Reputation.
The Forum was concluded by Luis Marques Mendes, Member of the State Council of the President of Portugal, Joao Paulo Rebelo, Secretary of State of Youth ad Sport in representation of the Prime Minister of Portugal, and Olympic gold medallist Rosa Mota.