Exclusive Interview with Hansjörg Höltkemeier

 
Exclusive Interview with Hansjörg Höltkemeier

In June 2015, Hansjörg Höltkemeier has been elected as President of the European Lotteries and since then he has been  working with other Executive Board Members to plan the future of Eurepan Lotteries on the basis of the association’s newly adopted “Oslo Resolution“.

It is a pleasure and an honour for EOSE that he agreed to share his view as regard why the sector should and how it can take opportunities of the European policies in the field of skills development in order to secure and develop better its potential.

Enjoy the read!

 

Lotteries and sport have always been deeply rooted as national Lotteries do have a long tradition in supporting the development of sport. What future do you see for sport and physical activity in Europe?
HH: “Lotteries do attach a great emphasis on grassroots sport. As physical inactivity in Europe seems to be steadily increasing, I think that the European Week of Sport is an initiative in the right direction and this is why EL is pleased to be an active partner. At the same time, I strongly hold the conviction that sport projects, if planned, measured and monitored properly, can achieve sustainable social change, including social integration, empowerment and non-formal education and I am happy that during the current refugees’ crisis, sport is increasingly considered as a vehicle for inclusion. I do have some concerns, though, regarding the increasing number of negative phenomena undermining sport. Apart from doping, issues related to corruption, match-fixing and good governance are sadly quite intense in modern sport and we need to work all together to make sure that these kinds of phenomena do not jeopardise the values that sport represents and don’t drive away people from physical activity.”

 
What is the role of the European Lotteries in this regard?
HH: “Lotteries in Europe have been the natural partners of sport for decades, providing sustainable financing of more than 2 bn EUR to sport per year, with grassroots sport being the main beneficiary. This sustainable financing, according to a recent study (SportsEconAustria, 2015) has a further impact on economy and employment, with more than 40,000 jobs secured every year thanks to this financing. Many national Lotteries have also been contributing to the financing of sport facilities, including the creation of accessible facilities for people of all abilities, as well as increasing sport participation through various initiatives. At the same time, integrity has always been a core value of EL, and therefore, we have taken numerous concrete actions to fight against match-fixing, which is in our view the greatest threat modern sport is confronted with.”

 
You have recently launched the European Lotteries Sport Award within the wider area of sport for societal change or sports integrity. It especially focuses on projects “seeking to promote grassroots sport”, “making this society a better place (addresses societal phenomena) using sport as a tool (e.g. social inclusion through sport projects / tackling radicalisation through sport)” and/or “fighting against negative phenomena within the sport world (match-fixing, corruption, spectators’ violence, doping etc.)”. As you may know, EOSE has been working on “workforce development” in the sport and physical activity sector since its creation in 2002 and such topic is at the heart of our mission. What is the place of skills development for the future of grassroots sport? Will you focus on this aspect when evaluating the projects?
HH: “As recognised by the Skills Agenda for Europe and the accompanying Staff Working document, participation in grassroots sport may also develop individuals’ skills and competences, including transversal skills. Especially in an era when youth unemployment is on the increase, I believe that this role of grassroots sport should be further highlighted. And of course, we would welcome submissions within this field for our EL Sport Award! Interested organisations can feel encouraged to visit our website to find out more about the EL Sport Award as well as the submission guidelines.”

 

Last but not least. The European Lotteries association is strongly involved in the fight against match-fixing. As part of your Sports Integrity Action Plan, you are calling for “the development of educational programmes seeking to raise awareness about illegal betting and match-fixing and to enhance coordination towards the fight against illegal operators at a national and international level”. How do you see their development and implementation and what are you concrete actions towards this specific goal?
HH: “Indeed! Driven by our core value, integrity, we have taken numerous actions against match-fixing. As you mentioned, education and prevention is a very important step in this fight. Many Lotteries in Europe are very active in educational programmes and in raising awareness regarding the risks related to match-fixing. At the level of EL, we have also taken part in many pan-European projects seeking to increase awareness among a big number of stakeholders. At the moment, as also required by the Council of Europe Convention on the manipulation of sport competitions, the setting up of national platforms against match-fixing should be a high priority for States and Lotteries have taken a very active role in the national platforms that have been already set up in their countries. In addition, monitoring of betting patterns is really a key matter in this field and EL already since 1999 had created a cooperation towards the exchange of information for betting irregularities. This cooperation led to the creation of the European Lotteries Monitoring System (ELMS) in 2009, which was in 2015 lifted onto a global level, with the creation of the Global Lottery Monitoring System (GLMS). Finally, illegal betting undermines the coordinated fight against match-fixing by the competent actors of each jurisdiction and this is why concrete measures against it is a conditio sine que non for the overall effective fight against the phenomenon. However, I would also like to add that illegal betting might also undermine the sustainable financing of grassroots sport and this is even reflected in the recent Recommendations of the High Level Group Grassroots Sport (which was set up by the European Commission), which included a recommendation to Member States “to take concrete measures to prevent illegal betting”.
Form our side, the fight against match-fixing shall remain one of our key priorities, as we consider it our duty to fight for a cleaner, credible and values-driven sport, which will be able to make this society a better place!”

 

 Interview by Carole Ponchon, EOSE European PR & Projects manager


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