International Standards

There is recognition that inter-personal violence, abuse, and harassment threatens not only the ethical and social basis of sport but also the physical, emotional, and mental health of athletes. Acts such as these contravene articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the European Convention on Human Rights, but also policy and position statements from (amongst others) the International Olympic Committee, the Commonwealth Games Federation, World Players Association, and the Centre for Sport and Human Rights.

The SSI International Safe Sport Principles, the International Safeguards for Children in Sport, and the International Safeguards for Adults in Sport form an inclusive set of standards in safe sport. Together, these offer a global starting point for developing context specific safe sport that can take into account culture, nation, age range, event type, and sport specific considerations.

SSI will continue to drive international standards in safe sport governance, culture, policies, and practice informed by research, data, experience, and the voices of athletes. Our 2024-26 goals to promote and advance international standards for safeguarding children, talent athletes, and adults in sport are:

  1. To actively encourage International Federations, Government agencies, and grassroots organisations to endorse, adopt and move towards meeting the International Safeguards For Children In Sport and the International Safeguards For Adults In Sport.
  2. To consult with stakeholders, researchers, centres for safe sport, young athlete voices, and survivors to update and expand the SSI International Safe Sport Principles.
  3. To assess the need and viability of offering an evaluation / accreditation / quality assurance process, accessible worldwide.
  4. To develop and share an SSI International Events Toolkit to support and guide good safeguarding practice.
  5. To seek out and share good practice for working with under-represented and unheard youth athlete voices.

International Safe Sport Principles

The following safe sport principles were developed in 2014 by SSI members and key stakeholders and have received endorsement from 35 international and national sports organisations and peak bodies including the International Paralympic Committee, Canadian Centre for Child Protection, Women’s Sport International, Caribbean Sport and Development Agency and UNICEF UK.

These international principles apply to past, present and future athletes, from all ages, abilities, social backgrounds and identities:

  1. That the welfare, safety and rights of all athletes is the central consideration in the administration and delivery of sport.
  2. That all sports organisations work together with appropriate partners to prevent and respond to violence against athletes.
  3. That sports organisations establish and disseminate relevant codes of ethics and conduct that will help prevent breaches of safe sport.
  4. That all members of the athlete’s entourage including officials, support staff and sports coaches, leaders and instructors undergo appropriate education and training about safe practices as a condition of their qualification to operate, including the adoption of empowerment-based coaching styles.
  5. That all members of the athlete’s entourage including officials, support staff and sports coaches, leaders and instructors undergo appropriate background or criminal record checks, and provide evidence of these to those responsible for hiring or recruitment.
  6. That athletes be educated and informed about their rights to be safeguarded and how to report any concerns they may have about their own or others’ safety.
  7. That reports of violence, and any actions or practices by anyone in sport that compromise the safety of the athlete, be treated respectfully and investigated and acted upon in a timely manner by appropriate authorities.
  8. That individuals subject to complaints or allegations be offered due process with fair and transparent grievance and disciplinary systems, and with clear suspension, sanctions and reinstatement procedures.
  9. That appropriate technology and communications be used to supplement support for athletes or anyone else wishing to make and pursue a referral about a suspected breach of safe sport.
  10. That all breaches of safe sport are recorded and managed systematically and the data used to research, evaluate and enhance safe practice.

International Safeguards for Children in Sport

The International Safeguards for Children in Sport initiative brings together 140+ organisations on 6 continents. The Advisory Board is chaired by our SSI Chair, Anne Tiivas, having been a founder member of the initiative to create the Safeguards in collaboration with UNICEF, Brunel University and other sports bodies since 2012.

Whether you are an organisation working with children in sport, or you have a governance responsibility in sport, taking the pledge to promote and embed the international safeguards is the first step in creating a safer sporting environment for children.

International Safeguards for Adults in Sport

The need to safeguard individuals in sport is not exclusive to children but should be afforded to all that participate. This includes adults, such as referees, coaches, athletes, volunteers, and fans. Adults, regardless of their age or identity, can be subjected to abuse and harm within sport.

The SSI Inclusive Safeguards Committee led the development of the International Safeguards for Adults in Sport. The new safeguards are based on grounded research with a range of stakeholders and consultations with athlete, education and training, and research groups. They were launched on 20 September 2023 at the SSI2023 Global Safe Sport Conference.