On the occasion of the International Anti-Corruption Day on December 9, TI Estonia recognized those brave athletes and coaches who drew attention to misconduct in football. Among the first to talk about it were football clubs Nõmme Kalju ex-footballer Mia Belle Trisna and FC Elva’s former coach *Lauri (name changed in Eesti Ekspress), contributing to the shift in values in other sports as well.
“Thanks to the first courageous ones, more and more people have dared to talk about their experiences of abuse and sexual harassment in sports this year,” explained Steven-Hristo Evestus, TI Estonia’s Chairman of the Board
“The great public interest shows that these stories have severely damaged our sense of social and personal justice. This is important for us as an association standing for a transparent and open society, because wrongdoing, both unethical and illegal, must be stopped as a matter of urgency. Unfortunately, this is difficult to do when the norm is silent mouth and ring fence. Greater openness will hopefully help prevent such cases in the future,” commented Evestus.
The draft law on the protection of whistleblowers is expected to reach Riigikogu soon. Although Estonia will not be able to transpose the EU directive on which the draft is based by the deadline of 17 December, it is hoped that in the first half of 2022, whistleblowers will be protected in the future both in terms of identity confidentiality and harassment. According to the draft, persons receiving sports support also receive protection.
“We have been waiting for years for a legislative framework to protect those who draw attention to violations. However, the culture and attitudes around us are certainly more important than the law. The proliferation of whistleblowing shows that we are moving towards an increasingly open society. There has been a shift in sports this year in terms of what behaviour is considered normal and what is no longer tolerated,” explained Evestus.
Last year, Remo Perli and the Estonian Center for Integrity in Sports received recognition for acknowledging the issue of sports corruption as a new field of anti-corruption, bringing it to the agenda and effectively promoting it.
In 2019, a year earlier, TI Estonia recognized the newspaper Postimees and investigative reporters Martin Lainet and Oliver Kund, who made a significant contribution to raising the issue of whistleblower protection in Estonian society by covering alleged fraud in Tallinn University of Technology.
“Recalling the recognized people of previous years, we see that great changes are taking place in the field of both whistleblowing and sports ethics. It is important that we notice and acknowledge this,” Evestus emphasized.
TI Estonia has been recognizing acts in anti-corruption since 2016 and the award was launched to recognize an act that has been of significant importance in achieving a more corruption-free, fair and transparent society.