News Release

Sports Ethics and Integrity: New EU program sponsors doctoral candidates from all over the world

Network of five prestigious European universities and eight non-academic organizations receives EU funding for postgraduate training

Grant and Award Announcement

Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz

Issues relating to sports ethics and integrity are the focus of a new international program for postgraduates financed by the European Union. Involved are five prestigious universities, including KU Leuven as project lead and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), as well as eight international sports federations, sports organizations, and NGOs. The doctoral candidates admitted to the program will be considering aspects such as doping, match-fixing, data protection, sexual harassment, and abuse in sports. The Doctoral Training Network in Sport Ethics and Integrity (DAiSI) program will receive total funding of about EUR 4.8 million – with EUR 3 million provided by the European Union through its Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions program, about EUR 900,000 from the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, and another about EUR 900,000 from the United Kingdom. "We are absolutely delighted to be part in this consortium of top-class European partners," emphasized Professor Holger Preuß of the JGU Institute of Sports Science. "The topics we cover are highly relevant to society in general and we hope to contribute to future discussions in these fields."

EU to promote respect for integrity and values in sport

The new project is a follow-up to the successful Erasmus Mundus Master in Sports Ethics and Integrity program (MAiSI) at JGU and partner universities in Prague, Leuven, Swansea, Peloponnese, and Barcelona, several graduates of which went on to obtain doctorates. Its main purpose is to help implement the European 2021 plan designed to safeguard compliance with ethical values and basic principles in sports-related activities in the EU. "We intend to assist with the establishment of a sustainable and accountable form of professional sports organization and of good governance. Furthermore, we will enhance our connections and cooperation with the other European universities and the eight leading international sports organizations involved," emphasized Professor Holger Preuß of the JGU Institute of Sports Science. The new Doctoral Training Network in Sport Ethics and Integrity is the first network worldwide that will be engaging in research of aspects of integrity in sports at the doctoral level. "We will be educating a new generation of experts and sports administrators who will be capable of detecting and preventing potential threats to the maintenance of integrity in sports, including any that originate with the various sports bodies and related governmental organizations," added Preuß.

The university members of the new DAiSI network, in addition to KU Leuven in Belgium and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, are the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Swansea University in Wales, and the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. Other partners include the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the European Olympic Committee, the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA), UNESCO, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the International Biathlon Union (IBU), and the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

Prevention of detrimental effects on athletes and sports organizations

The fields of research in the MAiSI network are wide and range from cheating in sport and corruption to methods of prevention and limitation of potentially damaging effects. "Our intention is to first analyze the problems, identify existing solutions and provide new ones where necessary, and undertake multidisciplinary research while working together with the various stakeholder groups in everything we do. We aim at initiating changes in the political sphere to preclude detrimental impacts on professional sports persons and organizations in future," emphasized Preuß.

A total of 17 doctoral students will be recruited worldwide for the program. They will receive extensive and interdisciplinary training over a period of four years. Four positions for PhD students will be available at JGU. The program is expected to launch on 1 January 2024. Applications should be submitted by mid-August 2023. The approval for the MSCA Doctoral Network follows on from the grants successfully acquired for the world’s first Master Program in Sport Ethics and Integrity (MAiSI).

MSCA Doctoral Networks

With the doctoral networks formed under the aegis of its Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) program, the European Union funds transnational postgraduate training projects undertaken by a range of academic and non-academic institutions. The idea is to improve the researchers' career prospects by fostering their international, interdisciplinary, and intersectoral mobility and to promote knowledge transfer between the participating institutions. This, in turn, will enhance the viability, quality, and relevance of doctoral programs.


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