UAE Launches Middle East’s 1st ‘Sports Federations Governance Guide’ to Regulate Sector and Aim for International Success


·        The guide was developed by the General Authority of Sports and the UAE National Olympic Committee.

·        H.E. Saeed Abdul Ghaffar:

  • Developing the sports sector and its institutions is a top priority for the UAE’s leadership, given the role that sports play in building communities.
  • The Guide offers a forward-looking roadmap for developing our national sports sector.

·        H.E. Mohammed bin Sulayem:

  • Sports play a significant role in building cultures, and we are fortunate in the UAE to have a leadership that settles for nothing short of excellence.
  • Our athletes are ambassadors representing us in front of the entire world at major sporting events and championships.

Dubai: The General Authority of Sports and the UAE National Olympic Committee have introduced the Sports Federations Governance Guide – the first project of its kind in the Middle East and a milestone in the local sports sector’s development.

The new Guide establishes a blueprint for structuring sports federations that can promote the growth of various sports, setting the foundations for an athletic environment and community that are capable and empowered to make local and international achievements.

The announcement was made at a press conference held in Dubai on May 27, 2021, where the contents of the Guide were showcased, emphasizing the Authority’s plans to establish a robust regulatory ecosystem that empowers sports federations to pursue championship titles around the region and the world. The conference was attended by His Excellency Saeed Abdul Ghaffar, Secretary-General of the General Authority for Sports, and H.E. Mohammed bin Sulayem, Secretary-General of the National Olympic Committee (NOC).

The Guide is part of the Authority’s plan to develop the sports sector and empower national sports leaders. It sets clearly defined guidelines and frameworks for establishing sports federations in the UAE, from assembling a board of directors, to setting objectives; outlining responsibilities; determining obligations; setting procedures for selecting members; forming permanent and temporary committees, administrative, and technical bodies; all the way to designing its financial systems and governance frameworks.

“Developing the sports sector and its institutions is a top priority for the UAE’s leadership, given the role that sports play in building communities and enhancing the country’s reputation in the region and the world,” said the General Authority for Sports’ Secretary-General H.E. Saeed Abdul Ghaffar. “To that end, we have intensified our efforts towards setting forward-looking visions that drastically upgrade performance across various sports sectors. Our ultimate goal is to have a generation of talented athletes who can make a name for the UAE in all high-profile regional and international competitions.”

“The launch of the Sports Federations Governance Guide – the first of its kind anywhere in the region – is a prime example of how constructive partnerships can ensure the UAE’s progress and prosperity in all sectors. A product of hard work and close cooperation with the UAE National Olympic Committee, the Guide offers a forward-looking roadmap for developing our national sports sector, setting strong foundations rooted in international best practices and governance standards for a sector that is competitive on the global stage,” H.E. added.

“The Guide outlines an integrated approach for enhancing sports federations – one that is firmly rooted in a set of core principles that enable federations to fulfil their role, enrich the local sports scene, and spread a culture of playing sports all across the country,” H.E. Abdul Ghaffar explained. “This, in turn, lays the groundwork for a thriving athletic community, encouraging talented young athletes to compete in international championships.”

For his part, NOC Secretary-General H.E. Mohammed bin Sulayem said: “We meet today to announce a new beginning and a novel business strategy that seeks, first and foremost, to establish the ideal environment for our sports federations to thrive, in line with the directives and vision H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE National Olympic Committee. These federations will represent our country in every sporting event, competition, and institution, and the ‘Sports Federations Governance Guide’ was launched to support them. The Guide was developed by a group of prominent legal experts and sports specialists, in accordance with international best practices and standards; our objective is for it to serve as a manual that will help federations in drafting their bylaws and statutes.”

H.E. bin Sulayem applauded the close coordination between the NOC and the General Authority of Sports to develop the Guide at this critical time, where all sectors have been experiencing notable growth, benefitting from the great support of the wise leadership – particularly UAE President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s interest and support for the sports sector.

“Sports play a significant role in building cultures,” H.E. added. “We were fortunate enough in the UAE to have a wise leadership that settles for nothing short of excellence in every sector – and sports is no exception. Our leaders firmly believe in the role sports play in drawing attention to our country and its accomplishments; our athletes are ambassadors representing us in front of the entire world at major sporting events and championships. With that in mind, we felt it was imperative that we all join hands to develop this Guide in line with the Olympic Charter and the laws of international sports federations.”

The Sports Federations Governance Guide defines a sports federation as a legal person that is financially and administratively independent, working to achieve its goals and meet its obligations as stipulated in its internal regulations, the Olympic Charter, NOC regulations, national laws, and the rules and regulations of continental and international federations.

The Guide outlines a set of objectives for sports federations that can be grouped in six main categories, starting with promoting a culture of playing sports in the UAE; establishing a local sports community in accordance with the provisions of the Olympic Charter and the laws and regulations of continental and international federations; working to enhance the UAE’s reputation in various sports institutions; and working to promote a sense of national belonging and identity.

Also among a federations’ objectives is to train national varsity teams in various age groups to represent the UAE in championships; strive towards regional, continental, international, and Olympic athletic accomplishments; encourage women to participate in sports; train referees and technical staff, improve their performance, and outline their responsibilities.

A federation is also entrusted with combatting the use of steroids, abiding by the general policies, practices, regulations, and legislations in place in the UAE.

Responsibilities and Obligations

As per the Sports Federations Governance Guide, a federation is tasked with managing and overseeing all affairs related to the sport it specialises in, ensuring they are in line with its bylaws, the Olympic Charter, the rules of the International Federation, and the legislations in force. It is also mandated with organising competitions and regulating private sports centres and clubs.

Federations must also develop plans to discover and train talented athletes to represent the UAE in continental, international, Olympic, and Paralympic tournaments. They also have the authority to arbitrate disputes among their members, implement regulations and decisions issued by the UAE National Anti-Doping Committee, enforce verdicts issued by the Emirates Center for Sports Arbitration or Court of Arbitration for Sport in the event where foreign parties are involved in disputes.

Fiscal Year and Revenues

The Guide sets the fiscal year for sports federations as 12 months starting from January 1 and ending on December 31. The first fiscal year on record for the federations will begin once the Guide goes into effect, and continues until December 31 of the following year.

The new Guide also determined a federation’s revenue sources, including subscription fees, service fees, fines outlined in the regulations, marketing revenues and sponsorship contracts approved by the board of directors. There are also government grants provided by the General Authority of Sports or federal and local government agencies, as well as support from the National Olympic Committee or continental and global federations, donations, and subsidies – provided the Board of Directors agrees to accept them following the Authority’s approval.

The list of revenue sources includes anything a federation earns from its activity, as well as the proceeds from its properties, and returns from the investment of its funds. All revenue sources are subject to the approval of the board of directors, in accordance with financial regulations issued by the Authority. It is prohibited to accept any financial support from third parties without prior approval from the General Authority of Sports and relevant UAE authorities.

Federations’ Expenses

According to the Guide, every federation has its own independent systems and regulations that regulate its workflow, including human resources, administrative, financial, and contractual systems. A federation is expected to cover all expenses in its budget, as well as any other expenditures approved by its General Assembly, and other expenses that are consistent with the objectives that the federation is working to achieve.