Third Policy Brief


Integrated Approach for the Prevention, Detection and

Combat of Sexual

Harassment in Sports

iSports Policy Briefs and Recommendations

Edited by Champions Factory Ireland

Project Overview

The imports project is a collaborative partnership between 10 participating organizations to develop a holistic approach for the protection of young athletes from any form of sexual harassment, empowering sports professionals, young athletes, and sports clubs towards sexual harassment detection, prevention, and combat. The imports project will:

  • Design a tailored training program & delivery through a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for young adult athletes and sports professionals on tackling sexual harassment in sports.
  • Provide sports professionals and athletes with the necessary skills and capabilities to prevent and manage sexual harassment cases in the sports environment.
  • Provide parents with the necessary knowledge and tools to manage sexual harassment cases, in which their children might be involved.
  • Establish and-pilot test the ISports mechanism with the participation of 120 users, using scenarios on how to manage, prevent, combat & reporting sexual harassment cases in sports.
  • Train 500 learners (sports professionals, athletes, parents) through the online MOOC on how to prevent, manage & combat sexual harassment in sports.
  • Train 175 learners (sport club managers, coaches, sports professionals, and athletes) through the training seminars.
  • Reach more than 10,000 sports professionals and young athletes, represented by the project participants, through dissemination actions
  • Transform the sports club environment into an inclusive, tolerant, and safe community.

Purpose of Policy Briefs

Each partner country of the iSports consortium prepared a policy brief on sexual harassment in a sport that is country-specific. The policy brief will be presented to relevant policymakers and stakeholders in each country for consideration and if successful – implementation. The purpose of the document is to present enough background information on the topic and offerrecommendations to the reader so that they can understand the problem, and offer suggestions that can be implemented in policy and practice.

The layout of the proceeding policy briefs is as follows:


This highlights the importance of the topic.


This is country-specific and enables the reader to understand the current situation in each country and identify what are the specific problems that the country is facing.

Recommendations for Action:

This section addresses what action should be taken to address the above issues.


Frederick University and Center for Social Innovation


Sexual harassment, a social phenomenon, and gender-based violence offends the victims’ dignity and appears inevitable in sports. The European Union (EU), to promote the European Union’s fundamental principle of equality between men and women, which presupposes the confrontation of sexual harassment, took innovative legislative initiatives. Sport is undoubtedly a means of intrapersonal and interpersonal development for children and young people.

Therefore, the participants’ personal experiences in sports play an essential role in young people’s positive or negative outcomes. In recent years, research studies have shown that

athletes can experience various forms of violence such as psychological, physical, sexual harassment and abuse, and neglect and grooming. Such experiences are related to unwanted, annoying, abusive, and offensive acts. They can lead to catastrophic consequences for the individual himself, leading to his early abandonment of the sport, psychosocial and social problems, and negative implications for the sports and the Sports Federations and Associations. Such acts provoke serious and irreversible human rights issues, as well as the values that govern sports. The Cyprus Sports Organization (CSO) proceeded with its implementation guide through which the recommendations of the European Commission are implemented and International Sports Organizations Concerning the Well-Being of Athletes as well as those involved in sport.

The Guide is the central pillar around which various strategies and educational actions will be formed to create the conditions for the elimination of such risks in sports by supporting in practice the Sports Federations and Associations, offering them the necessary support, infrastructure, and knowledge. Additionally, a more specific workaround for Sexual Harassment is presented in the Manual “Sexual Abuse in Sport: A Handbook for informing, Recognizing and Managing Cases of Sexual Abuse and Child Exploitation” by the CSO, which is due to be released in the following months.


Difficulty in proving/to make a case when an athlete accuses a person of sexual harassment. It seems extremely difficult to take a case of sexual harassment in court since it happens away from public view, from people who work closely with athletes, such as coaches or federation officials. Sometimes athletes are invited to the coach’s house to discuss the preparation practice plan or schedule the program to enable the athlete to compete in international games. In such a case, it’s just the athlete with the coach, so no proof can be forwarded to the federation or the police if anything suspicious occurs. Therefore, although accusations have been reported from time to time, nobody was driven to court to face the law.

No established rules/regulations on sexual harassment in sport in most federations. Although sexual harassment is reprehensible by all federations under CSO, no established rules/regulations are conducted today. Coaches and other sports officials are not trained to identify, prevent, or bring to light such cases, like in other countries. In addition, no set procedures are established providing a specific and legal mechanism between sports clubs/federations, CSO and the country’s legal framework. Furthermore, recording, monitoring, and evaluating the procedure could provide all relevant populations (athletes, coaches, sports stakeholders, etc.) feedback so that future cases could be dealt with successfully and would encourage more victims to come out and talk with less fear and criticism. However, immediate action was drawn by CSO for specific regulations and procedures upon a case of sexual harassment in a female Olympic level athlete that held the attention of the federation, sports officials, other organizations and the public.

Recommendations for Action:

This report focuses on three recommendations that include the fields of education, procedures, and quality control. These recommendations were in line with the context of “Sexual Abuse in Sport: A Handbook for informing, Recognizing and Managing Cases of Sexual Abuse and Child Exploitation”, developed and produced by the Cyprus Sports Organisation, Gender Equality Committee, which is due to be released to the public in the next few months. The context of this handbook could be applied to the following three recommendations for action, described below:

A: Education

Mandatory training (synchronous and asynchronous, online and face-to-face) should be set as a prerequisite for all adults that deal with children under 18 years of age and athletes <18 years old. The training should involve examples of good practices, preventing and identifying sexual harassment, and ways how to face cases of sexual harassment. The mandatory training could be in the form of systematic seminars (bi-annually, for example) and provide certification of participation that would then be a prerequisite for all sports personnel (coaches, doctors, managers, etc.). Additionally, massive open online courses (MOOCs) could be developed to include good practices, guidelines, FAQs (such as “how to identify sexual harassment”, and “what can I do?”), and procedures to be followed by athletes, sports personnel, and sports stakeholders. MOOCs and training could include both gamification and case studies for interactive means.

B: Procedures

The following action includes the procedures to be followed from the time a complaint occurs until the legal action is taken, thus providing a specific legal mechanism between sports clubs/federations, Sports Authority (Cyprus Sports Organisation), and the country’s legal framework. The procedures could include a timeline with steps/actions to be made and should be open and known to all sports populations. Particular attention should be given to protecting the victims and possible false accusations. Therefore anonymity and confidentiality should be set clear when a complaint occurs within the country’s legal framework. Additionally, support and guidance must be provided to the victims during and after the procedure to preserve a supportiveenvironment and avoid criticism. This may assign responsible officers and health scientists (psychologists) to overlook and procedure and act when necessary.

C: Quality Assurance

This action is mainly targeted so that all procedures have been followed accordingly and keep data of possible causes. Considering that courses specifically designed to combat sexual harassment in sports are still in their infancy, recording, monitoring, and evaluating the procedure could provide all relevant populations (athletes, coaches, sports stakeholders, etc.) feedback so that future cases could be dealt with successfully. Moreover, should the procedures followed are dealt with systematically with quality control, this may aid more victims to come out and talk with less fear and criticism, thus enabling a pathway to prevent sexual harassment in sports.

Relevant Policymakers and Stakeholders:

Dr. Mary Charalambous-Papamiltiadous, Director General of Cyprus Sport Organisation

Dr. Antonis Alexopoulos, Sport Sociology

Dr. Maria Papaefstathiou Ph.D. Social Sport Psychology/Sport, Culture, Society


Policy Brief Template:

• Introduction:

Law 2725/1999 on amateur and professional sports, includes provisions for fighting violence in sports. Violent offenses on the occasion of sporting events could be unprovoked and dangerous bodily harm, serious bodily harm of conflict, illegal violence, threat, disturbing the peace of the home, insult of “sexual dignity” and/or provocation of a scandal by indecent acts. According to Article 2 of Law 3896/2010 – with which the existing legislation was harmonized with the Directive 2006/54/EC on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation – sexual harassment is “any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature occurs, with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment”. Furthermore, according to Article 337 of Greek Penal Code (Law 46/19/2019) “anyone who, by gestures of a sexual nature, by proposals concerning sexual acts, by sexual acts performed in front of another or by the display of his/her genitals, brutally insults the honor of a person” is

punished “by imprisonment of up to one year or a fine”. If the victim is younger than 12 years old, then the perpetrator is punished “by imprisonment of up to two years or a fine”. Furthermore, a person “who makes sexual gestures or makes proposals for sexual intercourse to a person who is dependent on him/her for work or who is exploiting the need of a person to work” is punished “by imprisonment of up to three years or a fine”.

As the national equality body with a mandate to combat discrimination and promote the principle of equal treatment, the Greek Ombudsman receives reports on sexual harassment incidents that may have occurred in the public or private sector. Furthermore, Greek Ombudsman also promotes and protects children’s rights by mediating in cases involving actions or omissions of public services as well as individuals (natural or legal persons), following a complaint filed by citizens (children themselves, relatives, or persons who had first-hand knowledge of the violation) as well as ex officio in areas deemed to be of major importance.

• Problems/Issues:

With 52.2 out of 100 points, Greece ranks last in the EU on the EIGE’s Gender Equality Index for 2020. Greece’s score is 15.7 points below the EU’s score. The 1st Annual Report on Violence Against Women General Secretariat for Family Policy and Gender Equality (2020) may not include data regarding GBV in sports but, recently, after formal complaints from the former Sailing Olympian Sofia Bekatorou and numerous other top athletes, it came quite clear that there is a complete ignorance not only about the size and dimensions of the problem but also about good governance rules that a sports organizations can apply to prevent and combat all forms of gender based violence.

Specifically, children and young athletes, in particular, are sometimes at a disadvantage when it comes to sexual harassment in sports. Sports federations are in a position to combat sexual harassment in sports through their organization and ability to enforce laws.

The Ministry of Sports is proceeding with a series of specialized measures aimed at ensuring the protection of children and minor athletes. In this context is included the initiative for the organization of the Conference ” Start to Talk / Break the Silence – Speak, Do not hold back” with the participation of sports organizations of the country, under the Council of Europe program on “Child Protection in Sport “.

In particular, this online Conference with the participation of international organizations and the Greek authorities aimed to develop good practices to prevent and combat sexual harassment and abuse of children in sports activities.

The conference was coordinated by the Irish journalist and athlete, Karen Leach, who had fallen victim to sexual harassment. The former Sailing Olympian Sofia Bekatorou spoke of her own,similar, experience, as she recently reported incidents of sexual assault.

Recommendations for Action

The host of the Conference, Deputy Minister of Culture and Sports, Lefteris Avgenakis, pointed out, among other things, that “the protection of children is our priority. In fact, indicative of the importance we attach is the fact that the two central issues that we raised, in the context of the Greek Presidency of the Council, are:

  1. the review of the European Sports Charter, and
  2. Human Rights in Sports.

However, our country had not made significant progress in recording, understanding, and, of course, tackling this problem. “

As Mr. Avgenakis stressed, “from the first moment of taking office in the Ministry of Culture and Sports, we have paid special attention to this issue, which needs careful and substantial treatment and, of course, is not resolved in a simple and immediate way. It requires planning, participation of the society, information and sensitization”.

The Deputy Minister of Sports listed the initiatives taken from his side:

  • Discussion of the issue in the European Union Council of Ministers, looking for best practices and appropriate ways of dealing with it.
  • Aim to formulate in the Council of Europe, in the context of the Charter of Human Rights in Sport, of a common framework of principles and positions.
  • Creation in the General Secretariat of Sports of the Coach Registry, which did not exist, so that there are clear criteria for who undertakes to coach the children, who is the person to trust the children and who is the person the children to trust.
  • Signature of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Family and Child Care Center (KMOP) on issues of bullying. Because bullying is also a parameter of abuse. As part of this cooperation, development of awareness actions on bullying issues with action “Live without Bullying»
  • Development of actions, such as the “Live Athletic” program, with the mission of promoting the Athletic Ideal and Athletic Ethics as a model of daily life, where, among other things, the participating Olympians and World Champions raise children’s awareness on sports issues. and healthy and safe lifestyle.
  • Support of the HALT program (under the European Erasmus + Sport Program) and development of partnerships and synergies to raise awareness of harassment and abuse in sport.
  • Adaptation and adjustment depending on country’s data, by developing the national framework for the protection of children and young people, the eight (8) international measures for the protection of children in sport:
  1. Development of national policy.
  2. Procedures that provide satisfactory answers to doubts, hesitations and concerns.
  3. Supply of consultancy and support
  4. Minimize risks for children and young people
  5. Behavioral instructions
  6. Prevention, education and communication
  7. Collaboration with partners
  8. Monitoring and evaluation

Overall, the shocking allegations of the former Sailing Olympian Sofia Bekatorou, required to activate direct reflexes in the Sports Field and society, with explicit condemnation of such behavior and zero tolerance in order to create a better environment for the next generation of athletes.

The sports reform, the introduction of limits on management positions that encourage the renewal and prevent long-term retention and development of power behavior, the Coaches Registry, for clear criteria on who is the person to whom we trust the children, who are the person that the children trust and other initiatives developing by the Ministry of Sports, create the conditions to face efficiently such heinous acts and attitudes.

  • Last but not least a new sports law was passed, which provides for the following:

Article 46

Federation sports psychology advisor – Addition of Article 23A to Law 2725/1999 Article 23A is added to Law 2725/1999 (A΄ 121) as follows:

Article 23A

Federation Sports Psychology Consultant

  1. Every sports federation is obliged to employ a sports psychology consultant as a specialist partner.
  2. The sports psychology consultant provides the athletes with counselling and situation management services in the sports environment, contributing to their psychological empowerment, in collaboration with the National Sports Research Centre and the Health Committee of the General Secretariat of Sports.
  3. The sports psychology consultant is a psychologist, who holds a degree or diploma from a national higher education institution or an equivalent foreign university, or a degree or diploma that has been recognized as professionally equivalent by the Autonomous Department for the Implementation of European Legislation (A.T.E. E.N.) of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs or holds the recognition of professional qualifications based on Directive 2005/36/EC by A.T.E.N. and has a license to practice the profession of psychologist.
  4. The sports psychology consultant must enter into a written contract with the sports federation, to which he provides his services under full-time, part-time, or periodic employment, dependent work, or independent services contracts. The relevant contract, to be valid, is required to be registered in the ERGANI Information System (ERGANI), if it is an employment contract or to be filed and considered by the competent Public Financial Service (P.O.Y.) or to be posted on the TAXIS net information system.’

Article 27


Without prejudice to paragraph 2 of article 104, with general or special regulations, which are voted by the general meeting of the members of each sports federation of the relevant sport or the relevant sports branch, the rules applicable to all matters concerning the organization and the conduct of the sport or sports that fall under it, as well as any other relevant detail. For the preparation of the above regulations, the applicable international Regulations are taken into account. Observance of these rules is mandatory for sports clubs and sports associations that belong to the jurisdiction of the relevant federation. The sports federation must draw up and observe at least the following seven (7) regulations: a) competitions, b) national teams, c) registrations and transfers, d) disciplinary, e) ethics, f) anti-doping, and g) arbitration. The regulations of the fourth paragraph and their amendments are subject to a legality check by the Minister responsible for sports, to whom they are submitted under the responsibility of the board of directors of the federation within three (3) months of their approval by the general assembly. Examples of National Policy Recommendations:

  1. University Schools of Physical Education and Sport Science and Sports clubs/associations together with experienced in GBV issues CSOs and with the support of the Ministry for Culture and sports, organize and deliver – regularly – training and awareness activities for sports professionals on measures and good practices to prevent and tackle sexual harassment and GBV in general in sports sector.
  2. In the aforementioned context, organize relevant activities targeting athletes on ways to identify sexual harassment and other forms of GBV, seek for support and report incidents.
  3. Establish safe reporting procedures for sexual harassment victims in sports, coordinated by the Ministry of Culture and Sports in collaboration with the supporting network for GBV survivors of the General Secretary for Demography and Family Policy and Gender Equality.
  4. All sports clubs, associations, federations as well as all University Schools of Physical Education and Sport Science declare that they are sexual harassment and GBV free spaces and shall not tolerate such behaviors, thus discouraging (potential) perpetrators and encouraging GBV survivors that they are not alone.
  5. All sports clubs, associations, and federations as well as all University Schools of Physical Education and Sport Science provide and promote information by all means (e.g., in their websites and/or in printed form) regarding relevant legal framework, recording options and available supports services with relevant contact info for sexual harassment – and GBV in general – victims, in simple and understandable language.

Relevant Policymakers and Stakeholders:

1Deputy Minister of Culture and SportsAnastasios Lagas
2Prime MinisterKyriakos Mitsotakis
3Deputy Minister of Education & Religious Affairs – Responsible for Higher
Prof. Angelos Syrigos
4Secretary-General for Demography and Family Policy and Gender EqualityYanna Harmova
5Deputy Ombudswoman for Equal TreatmentKalliopi Lykovardi
6Deputy Ombudswoman for Children’s RightsTheoni Koufonikolakou
7President of the Research Centre for Gender Equality (KETHI)Theodosia Tantarou –
8President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee and IOC MemberSpyros Capralos
9President of the Hellenic Archery FederationElsi Skafida
10President of the Hellenic Association of Amateur Athletics (SEGAS)Sofia Sakorafa
11President of the Hellenic Badminton FederationYannis Kapos
12President of the Hellenic Basketball FederationEvangelos Liolios
13President of the Hellenic Boxing FederationCharilaos Mariolis
14President of the Hellenic Canoe Kayak FederationIoannis Skourtis
15President of the Hellenic Cycling FederationVasilis Diamantopoulos
16President of the Hellenic Equestrian FederationKostas Karakasilis
17President of the Hellenic Fencing FederationIoannis Lignos
18President of the Hellenic Federation WrestlingStergios Leonakis
19President of the Hellenic Football FederationPanos Baltakos
20President of the Hellenic Golf FederationThomas Tokas
21President of the Hellenic Gymnastics FederationAthanasios Stathopoulos
22President of the Hellenic Handball FederationKonstantinos Gadis
23President of the Hellenic Judo FederationDimitris Michailidis
24President of the Hellenic Karate FederationTheodoros Sietis
25President of the Hellenic Modern Pentathlon FederationDimitris Papalexopoulos
26President of the Hellenic Rowing FederationIoannis Vrampas
27President of the Hellenic Sailing FederationAndroniki Anastasiou
28President of the Hellenic Shooting FederationThanasis Papageorgiou
29President of the Hellenic Swimming FederationKyriakos Giannopoulos
30President of the Hellenic Table Tennis FederationKonstantinos
31President of the Hellenic Taekwondo FederationMichael Fysentzidis
32President of the Hellenic Tennis FederationDimitris Stamatiadis
33President of theHellenic Volleyball FederationGeorge Karabetsos
34President of the Hellenic Weightlifting FederationAnastasios Lagas
35President of the Hellenic Winter Sports FederationGeorge Nikitidis

Οn 14.11.2022 all the Sports Federations in Greece were informed by the Ministry of Culture and Sports through the competent Deputy Minister and the General Secretariat of Sports, about the preparation of a “Special Strategy that aims the further developing the policy of strengthening integrity and effectively dealing with corruption phenomena and mismanagement in the field of sport”. Thankfully, that of course includes sexual harassment in athletic environments.

This initiative is a very important development on this matter as this is the first time that three very important government bodies, such as the Ministry of Culture and Sports, The General Secretary of Sports and the National Transparency Authority all together cooperates in order to deal with corruption phenomena that are affecting sports.

The main subjects – areas that the new policy will interfefe are:

  • good governance
  • anti doping
  • combating sport manipulation
  • combating bullying and harassment practices
  • combating violence in sport

Further to this new positive progress the HELLENIC VOLLEYBALL FEDERATION informed officially the General Secretary of Sports Mr Georgios Mavrotas about the ISPORTS European project that is in progress and all the benefits for the area of sports that will arise after the conclusion of this project.


Policy Brief: Addressing Sexual Harassment in Sport in Ireland


Sexual harassment in sport is a widespread and pressing issue, which is particularly concerning in Ireland. Despite the increasing attention given to the problem, the situation has not improved, and it continues to affect athletes and those involved in sports at all levels. This policy brief aims to provide background information on the issue and to offer recommendations for addressing it.

Current situation:

According to a recent survey, one in five women and one in 10 men in Ireland have experienced sexual harassment in sports. Additionally, the Irish Sports Council has reported a significant increase in the number of cases of sexual harassment in the sport over the past few years.

The urgency of the situation:

The absence of action to address sexual harassment in sports in Ireland is a matter of great concern. This is particularly true in light of recent high-profile cases, which have brought the issue

to the forefront of public attention. In particular, the case of a prominent Irish athlete, who was the victim of sexual harassment, highlights the ongoing nature of the problem.


  • To address sexual harassment in sports in Ireland, the following recommendations are made:
  • Implement comprehensive training programs for athletes, coaches, and sports officials to raise awareness about sexual harassment and promote a culture of respect.
  • Establish clear guidelines and protocols for reporting and responding to incidents of sexual harassment in sport.
  • Ensure that all cases of sexual harassment are thoroughly investigated and that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions.
  • Provide support and resources for victims of sexual harassment in sport, including access to counseling and other forms of assistance.


Sexual harassment in sports is a serious problem that affects individuals at all levels of sports in Ireland. To effectively address this issue, policymakers and stakeholders must take action to raise awareness, promote a culture of respect, and provide support for victims. With the implementation of these recommendations, Ireland can take important steps toward ending sexual harassment in sports and creating a safe and inclusive environment for all athletes and those involved in sports.



The importance of recognizing sexual harassment of women in sports has come at the highest levels. Sexual harassment in sports has unique dimensions because of the necessary focus on athletes’ bodies and the power relationships established with coaches.

Harassment of female athletes happen in all sports and at all levels. Prevalence appears to be higher in elite sport. Members of the athlete’s entourage or peer athletes who are in positions of power and authority appear to be the majority of abusers. Males are more often reported as abusers than females.

Although different criminal and legislative mechanisms have been developed to improve their protection, there are still many duties to be done. In the following policy brief, we will develop the main problems faced by women in sports in Italy, and we will provide policy recommendations so that women can safely exercise these sports professions.

Lack of Recognition

Sport is central to the balanced physical and psychological growth of our young people and valid educational support for families, the world of sport has significant dimensions: there are 4,703,000 registered athletes of national sports federations, with women representing 28.2% of the total, the under 18s 56.7%; over one million sports operators and 63,517 affiliated sports clubs. (CONI, 2017). In Italy too often cases of sexual abuse in the world of sport end up covered up and are hidden by a veil of silence. The victim, there is a huge fear of reporting and being marginalized. So families find themselves alone and ask for justice. Stories of sexual abuse and violence are starting to emerge in the world of sports. A phenomenon that too often remains hidden due to a system of silence. But there is still much to be done to overcome the fear of reporting. According to the latest data provided by Coni, in Italy there are 4.2 million members of sports federations: women represent 28% of the total while the under 18s are 54%. Despite these figures, however, there are no provisions in federal regulations that explicitly punish acts of pedophilia or sexual violence;

Recommendation for action

The government could take the following steps to prevent and address sexual harassment: Requiring all sporting organizations to develop policies and procedures for the prevention ofsexual harassment and abuse;

  • Requiring all sport organization to prepare and implement codes of ethics and conduct for coaches;
  • Monitoring the implementation of these policies and procedures;
  • Providing training for sports organizations and athletes on how sexual harassment and sexual relationships can negatively influence coach-athlete relationships;
  • Developing complaint procedures that ensure privacy.
  • Protect legal rights of athletes and coaches;
  • Screen all applicants for the coaching staff and volunteer positions;
  • Foster strong partnerships with parents/caregivers in the prevention of sexual harassment and abuse;
  • Promote and support research on these issues;
  • Eliminating gender stereotypes in sports and media coverage of the sport.
  • Encourage open discussion about the issues of sexual harassment and abuse so that athletes with problems feel confident enough to speak out;


Sexual Harassment in Sport: Last edited: October 29, 2010, Harassment and Abuse in Sports:

Sexual Exploitation in the Sports Industry: An Abuse of Power February 16, 2018 Daniela simonetti “Impunità di gregge. Sesso bugie e omertà nel mondo dello sport”. CONI 2017, report I numeri dello sport 2017, Centro studi e osservatori statistici per lo sport di Coni December 2018). fenomeno-diffuso-non-solo-in-italia/

Relevant Policymakers and Stakeholders

CONI The Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI), is the public body that provides, provides discipline, regulation, and management of national sports activities in Italy, by the authority of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Change the game –

At the local level: Municipality of Milan (area sport, tourism, and quality of life)

At regional level: Lombardy Region (sport department)

At national level: National Ministry of sport



Sexual harassment is a human rights violation, which has no differences in social class, economic income, education, race, language, religion, or age, and is experienced in many countries of the world, primarily affecting women’s health and participation in social life. Sexual harassment, which occurs in many parts of the world and different social areas, is examined as a social problem by researchers in various disciplines such as sociology, psychology, education, and law. There is almost no scientific evidence for sexual harassment in sports, frequently reported in our country’s written and visual media. However, sexual harassment, a crime, can cause the end of the sports life of athletes, negatively affecting their physical and mental health. Following the

decisions taken by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on February 8, 2007, Türkiye needs to develop policies against sexual harassment in sports, provide training on sexual harassment to sports people and athletes, and raise awareness by adding the issue of sexual harassment to continuing education programs. In addition, if the institutional structure regarding sexual harassment is effectively structured in all organizations authorized sports organizations at the national level, and if the athletes are provided with confidence in these institutions that make equitable and fair decisions, it can be thought that the cases of sexual harassment will decrease and the athletes will more easily express the existing ones. Therefore, sports institutions need to prioritize sexual harassment and develop preventive policies urgently.

Sexual harassment and assault is a form of discrimination arising from gender inequality, among other reasons, and is a common phenomenon in all areas of social life, albeit in different forms and levels. In addition, sexual harassment and assault constitute a crime as they violate rights and can negatively affect their victims in various ways. Harassment in the sports environment negatively affects people’s working and learning lives in multiple forms and levels. In institutional settings where hierarchical relations are dominant, harassment is often rendered invisible due to the difficulties experienced by the survivors in expressing it, and both the individual and the institutional environment suffer from this situation. Although it is mainly committed as a form of discrimination against women, some people are also affected by harassment due to sexual orientation and gender identity.


  1. If there is a Policy Document and Support Unit in the institution it is exposed to, read its Directive (each institution should have a Policy Document and Support Unit.)
  2. Staying away from situations and people that they think may be open to sexual harassment
  3. Openly warning the person that the behavior is not welcome, saying “no” openly about unwanted sexual intimacy
  4. To inform the person who has been disturbed that if he does not stop this behavior, he will take official action.
  5. From the first moment, collect whatever material can be used as evidence in the investigation to keep a record of the events, to keep the evidence, and to share the event with close people.
  6. To apply to the Support Unit Against Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault to get support and learn about their rights
  7. Applying to the academic advisor, the administrative authorities of the university
  8. To apply to the security units or the prosecutor’s office for prevention and protection.

Problems and Issues

While the sports field in Türkiye is managed mainly by state institutions (General Directorate of Sports, Sports Federations), sports clubs, and commercial sports centers, the voice of civil society is almost inaudible. On the other hand, non-governmental organizations have an intense sphere of influence in Northern European countries, America and Canada. For example, it is claimed that the voluntary sports system in Norway is the country’s fifth most vital social institution (Klausen, 1998). An important point emphasized in international policy documents is the cooperation of institutions in sports. In particular, collaborating with government institutions and nongovernmental organizations is essential in developing, implementing, and evaluating policies to prevent harassment and abuse in sports. Non-governmental organizations and public institutions in Türkiye should work to ensure that sports and physical activity opportunities are provided in a safe and supportive environment so that women, boys, and girls can enjoy all the advantages of active life.

Although awareness of sexual harassment and abuse is increasing in Türkiye, we should also state that this awareness should be increased in the decision-making bodies of the relevant institutions. For this reason, the management of sports institutions, political decision-makers, and policymakers have essential duties in implementing national and international policy documents on preventing harassment and abuse in sports. On the other hand, it is the responsibility of every individual in this environment to prevent sexual harassment and abuse observed in every sport and performance level.

Recommendations for Action

To prevent harassment, abuse, and violence, first, the seriousness must be recognized. All institutions/organizations need to establish policies and enforce regulations on sexual harassment and abuse in sports. Institutions in Türkiye should develop policies and regulations to prevent sexual harassment and abuse in sports.

While establishing policies and regulations, institutions should clarify the following questions and specify them in rules.

  • Which behaviors are perceived as sexual harassment?
  • What factors affect people’s characterization of their experiences as sexual harassment and their formal reporting of sexual harassment to senior management?
  • What are the individual and situational factors that affect the likelihood of experiencing sexual harassment?

The regulations and policies mentioned above should pay attention to the following issues. It should monitor the implementation of these policies and regulations and establish a follow-up committee.

It should regularly monitor whether the envisaged regulations are sufficient to detect and prevent sexual harassment and abuse.

It should develop preventive education and training programs.

It should encourage and develop an egalitarian, respectful, and ethical leadership approach. Besides the above, it is crucial to indicate that scientific research on sexual harassment and abuse in sports should be further increased and supported by all the authorities.

Within the scope of the abovementioned regulations and policies, Ankara University has a Policy Document Against Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Violation. In addition, to prevent sexual harassment, a unit named “Support Unit Against Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault” was established within the university and assigned administrative, academic, and educational duties and powers to this unit. The unit does not leave complaints inconclusive and develops support mechanisms for victims. This unit was created to prevent exposure to harassment and attack in sports, literature, mathematics, in every field.

The duties of the Unit Board are to investigate allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual abuse, and retaliation; to take initiatives regarding restorative justice between the complainant and the person complained of, at the request of the complainant; to provide expert support to investigators and relevant administrative units on sexual harassment issues; cooperating with competent bodies to take urgent measures in cases of severe harassment; It has been determined as organizing training, promotion and similar activities and publishing to raise awareness against sexual harassment and sexual assault at the university.

There are so many support units of the Universities in Türkiye (For example; Çukurova University, Dokuz Eylül University, Bilkent University, etc.) But unfortunately, many sports clubs, sports federations, sports-related institutions, and organizations in Turkey, such as Universities, have a structure like Universities and Support Units against Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault and their policies. Therefore, all the institutions/organizations need to establish support units like universities and include an in-house policy document. Only in this way can the cases related to this issue decrease and be a deterrent.


Çamlıyer Hatice, “Türkiye’de Spor Yönetimi ve Federasyonlar ve Sorunları”, Türkiye Amatör Spor Kulüpleri Federasyonu Dergisi, Sayı: 89, Ocak-Şubat, 1999, Ankara, s.10-11. Okunduğu yer;

International Olympic Committee, IOC adopts consensus statement on “sexual harassment and abuse in sport”, press release PR-05-2007, Lausanne

Brackenridge, C.H. (2001), Spoilsports: Understanding and Preventing Sexual Exploitation in Sport. London: Routledge.

Brackenridge, C.H. and Kirby, S. (1997), Playing Safe? Assessing the risk of sexual abuse to young elite athletes, International Review for the Sociology of Sport 32(4): 407-418.

Volkwein, K., Schnell, F., Sherwood, D. and Livezey, A. (1997), Sexual harassment in sport: Perceptions and experiences of American Female student-athletes, International Review for the Sociology of Sport 23 (3): 283-295.

Gündüz N., Koz M., Fedai T., Sunay H. & Ersöz G. (2002). Türkiye’de değişik spor branşlarındaki elit kadın sporcuların karşılaştıkları cinsel taciz olaylarının araştırılması. Spor Bilimleri Dergisi, 6 (1), 95-108

Kirby, S.Not in my backyard: Sexual harassment and abuse in sport, Les Cahiers de la Femme (Canadian Women Studies).