Good governance principles: Snapshot of athletes’ and coaches’ commissions within their National Sports Federations in 2019

Keywords: good governance principles, national-level policy-making, athletes’ commissions, National Sports Federations, Switzerland



Good governance principles of National Sports Federations (NSF) include the representation of athletes and coaches through commissions (PlayTheGame, n. d.). This representation has been an important issue in Switzerland since the “Magglingen Protocols” of October 2020, which outlined the abuses in Swiss women’s gymnastics. In response, Swiss Olympic and the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport have taken measures, including the representation of athletes and coaches within their NSFs. One year before the abuses became public, athletes, coaches and NSFs’ officials were surveyed regarding principles of good governance. The surveys comprised questions on their involvement in policy-making at national level and, in particular, the existence of an athletes’ and coaches’ commission within their NSFs.


Using the SPLISS model (Sports Policy Factors Leading to International Sporing Success) and respective surveys (De Bosscher et al., 2006), 1,450 athletes with a Swiss Olympic Card Gold, Silver, Bronze or Elite from 54 different sports, 734 coaches with a national coaching position and a professional coaching qualification and 122 officials from NSFs were surveyed via an online survey (Kempf et al., 2021).


Around 990 athletes assessed their involvement in the development and evaluation of policy guidelines, of which 16% (n = 156) reported to be “very/sufficiently involved” in the development within their NSF, followed by 13% (n = 130) for Swiss Olympic and 10% (n = 99) in FOSPO respectively. Overall, 50% (n = 451 – 507) of athletes consider their involvement to be “insufficient/not at all” in all three organisations. The responses for the evaluation of policy guidelines were similar. Regarding the existence of an athlete’s commission within their NSF, 44% (n = 442) of athletes stated that there is one, while 35% (n = 351) did not know; respectively coaches for coaches’ commission: 30% (n = 129) and 25% (n = 108). Finally, 46% (n = 41) of officials stated that there was a coaches’ committee in their NSF and 30% (n = 25) for the athletes’ commissions respectively.


The results show that in 2019, an important number of athletes do not feel sufficiently involved in national level policy-making and that a significant number of athletes and coaches are not represented by a commission within their NSF. Meanwhile, the findings confirm the need for improved communication, particularly in relation to the existence of commissions. As posited by PlayTheGame (n. d.), clearly communicating the rights and responsibilities of commission members is needed to improve coaches and athletes’ involvement. Further research could make a comparison with the current situation and analyse the impact of the measures introduced by FOSPO and Swiss Olympic since 2020.


De Bosscher, V., De Knop, P., Van Bottenburg, M., & Shibli, S. (2006). A conceptual framework for analysing sports policy factors leading to international sporting success. European Sport Management Quarterly, 6(2), 185-215.

Kempf, H., Weber, A. C., Zurmühle, C., Bosshard, B., Mrkonjic, M., Weber, A., Pillet, F., & Sutter, S. (2021). Leistungssport Schweiz. Momentaufnahme SPLISS-CH 2019 [High performance sport Switzerland. Snapshot SPLISS-CH 2019] (2nd, rev. ed.). Bundesamt für Sport BASPO.

PlayTheGame. (n. d.). Strengthening athlete power in sport.

How to Cite
Weber, A. C., Weber, S., & Staley, L. (2024). Good governance principles: Snapshot of athletes’ and coaches’ commissions within their National Sports Federations in 2019. Current Issues in Sport Science (CISS), 9(2), 083.