Research Projects

Innovation mandate (Vlaio): Developing innovative, effective tools to strengthen motivating leadership in sports clubs

Board members of sports clubs (mostly volunteers) are challenged to keep the club financially healthy, retain members, and attract volunteers.

  • This requires a strong motivating leadership style

Purpose of the innovation mandate:

  • Developing a scan to measure the motivating leadership style in sports clubs. The scan identifies the motivating style board members rely on in their interaction with stakeholders as well as the motivating style used within the board.
  • Developing simulation training programs that effectively strengthen the motivating leadership style in sports clubs.
  • Testing the effectiveness of the scan and simulation training programs on the motivating leadership style and stakeholder motivation.

To this end, we are collaborating with the Flemish Sports Federation

Contact: dr. Tom De Clerck
More information (in Dutch):

The impact of gambling advertising in sport on the normalisation of gambling and gambling behaviour (FPS Justice, 2022-2023)

This research project comprises two parts

  • A systematic literature review of existing research on the impact of sports sponsorship by gambling companies.
  • Two experimental studies on the impact of shirt sponsorship and billboard sponsorship by gambling companies in sports, respectively.

Contact: Prof. dr. Bram Constandt

Responsible and sustainable management in sports organisations: Towards an integrated value(s) approach (BOF, 2023-2027)

The UN developed 17 sustainable development goals (e.g. good health and well-being, reduced inequality and climate action) as a function of 2030. Despite growing attention, there is little knowledge on how sport can help achieve these goals (Hugaerts et al., 2021; Schyvinck, 2021).
This project will study the role of sport as a tool for sustainable development in society, focusing on the role of sports organisations. The central idea is that the future of sport depends on the added value it can generate (Tännsjö & Tamburrini, 2000). This project includes a historical and ethical analysis of the creation of added value and the balancing of values (e.g. sporting, social, cultural, moral, economic, geopolitical and ecological values) in and through sport, as well as interviews and survey research in sports organisations, event organisers and policy makers. This project will lead to an integrated framework on sustainable value(s) in sport.

Contact: Prof. dr. Bram Constandt

GAMSPON - The relationship between gambling sponsorship and the normalisation and prevalence of gambling (BELSPO, 2023-2026)

Through this research proposal, we will map the impact of gambling advertising on (problematic) gambling behaviour, attitudes towards gambling behaviour and intentions towards gambling behaviour among youth and adults. Insights from this project will be used to develop policy guidelines with the ultimate goal of better protecting individuals who gamble and preventing gambling harm.

To answer this central research question, four different research objectives are formulated.

  • The first research objective examines the prevalence of (problematic) gambling behaviour in the Belgian population and investigates the relationship between exposure to gambling sponsorship and gambling behaviour.
  • A second objective focuses on the causal relationships in adults between gambling sponsorship and gambling-related attitudes, intentions and behaviours, and which underlying mechanisms explain these relationships.
  • The third objective examines the attitudes and dispositions of young people (16-21 years old) towards gambling brand sponsorship and how this contributes to the normalisation of gambling.
  • A fourth and final objective focuses on informing stakeholders and the readiness of stakeholders (the gambling industry, practitioners and policy) to implement the evidence-based guidelines.

To meet these four diverse objectives, the research will use a multi-method approach. A combination of quantitative (experimental and survey research) and qualitative methods (focus groups) will be employed to answer the various research questions. Each of the research objectives will be linked to a specific data collection and data processing. Thus, research objective 1 will be answered using a survey study (embedded in Sciensano's National Health Survey), a series of experimental studies will be conducted for research objective 2, and research objectives 3 and 4 will be answered using focus groups.

Contact: Prof. dr. Bram Constandt

Sports sponsorship as a vehicle for gambling providers: How gambling sponsorship in sport persuades consumers and contributes to gambling harm (FWO, 2023-2027)

Gambling is becoming increasingly popular as a leisure activity. However, a significant number of people are at risk of becoming addicted to gambling, which is not only related to financial problems, but also to substance abuse, depression and suicide.
Gambling marketing is one factor that contributes to consumers' gambling behaviour. One specific form of gambling marketing that is becoming increasingly popular among gambling providers and is simultaneously the subject of public and regulatory discussions is sports sponsorship by gambling providers. The strong alliance between gambling and sports, which is also referred to as the gamblification of sports, can be morally questioned.
Indeed, the healthy image of sport can be transferred to gambling (the 'health-halo effect'), which normalises gambling and increases gambling participation.

Nevertheless, empirical and scientific research on the power of influence of sponsorship by gambling providers is scarce. Therefore, the current project investigates how sports sponsorship by gambling providers influences consumers in terms of gambling-related beliefs, attitudes and behaviours. It also examines the role of moral appropriateness of sponsorship and team identification.
This project will result in insights into and recommendations for public policy, regulators and sports governing bodies.

Contact: Prof. dr. Bram Constandt

PrOFS: Prevention Of Fraud In Sports

The PrOFS project offers an ambitious, state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary scientific approach to the prevention of fraud in sport. The project aims at a systemic change, made possible by the close cooperation between a wide range of researchers, various stakeholders in the fight against fraud in sport, and the Fund for Scientific Research (FWO).

Starting from a scientific basis, the researchers of the PrOFS project want to develop and test practical tools for the field within the sports sector, such as the fraud in sport barometer, risk audit or crime monitoring. In addition, the researchers also want to provide pracitical solutions such as new legislation, educational workshops or competition reforms, with the ultimate goal of optimising the fight against fraud in sport.

Contact: Prof. dr. Annick Willem
More information:

Clubgrade: Identifying and strengthening quintessential management processes board members can rely on 

Many sports clubs have problems that threaten their existence such as declining finances and a decreasing number of coaches, volunteers and members. These problems are partly due to environmental changes such as decreasing governmental subsidies, demographic change, and competition from commercial sport providers.
However, board members of sports clubs can also implement effective management processes to address these issues.

Purpose of Clubgrade:

  • Identifying effective management processes board members can rely on
  • Developing and evaluating an intervention to strengthen effective management processes
  • Investigating the effect of this intervention on the sport club's management, the behaviors and attitudes of important internal stakeholders such as coaches, volunteers and members, and the human and financial resources.

Contact: dr. Tom De Clerck
More information:

EPOSM: Evidence-based Prevention Of Sporting-related Match-fixing

EPOSM is an Erasmus+ Sport collaboration between academic and non-academic organisations that investigates sport-related match-fixing in different sport disciplines at the European level. Moreover, this project will also organise training sessions tailored to different sport organisations.

The primary goal of EPOSM is to raise awareness about the prevalence of sport-related matchfixing. Equally important is to stimulate moral judgement about the fact that sport-related matchfixing is wrong. After all, sport-related matchfixing threatens the credibility and attractiveness of sport. Finally, the researchers and stakeholders want to share and transfer their knowledge on sports-related matchfixing through organising training sessions that are tailored to the needs of different sports and sport organisations.

Contact: dr. Stef Van Der Hoeven
More info:

Research Platform Sport

The Research Platform Sport exists since 1 October 2017 and acts as a research collaboration between the KU Leuven, Free University of Brussels and Ghent University for policy-relevant research in sport in Flanders, funded by Sport Flanders. The platform covers three different research topics:

  • Policy monitoring
  • Sports participation and sport-for-all
  • Motor development in young children.

Our sportmanagement researcher Thomas De Bock works on the research topic policy monitoring and sports participation & sport-for-all, specifically on making sports as accessible and with the lowest possible barriers.

Contact: Thomas De Bock
More information: