The EU must shape a European sports model that is based on solidarity, inclusiveness, open competition and fairness, MEPs say in a report adopted on Tuesday.
With 597 votes to 36 and 55 abstentions, MEPs say they want European sporting culture to be aligned with EU values of solidarity, sustainability, inclusiveness for all, open competition, sporting merit and fairness. Parliament strongly opposes “breakaway competitions” that undermine these principles and endanger the stability of the overall sports ecosystem.
Building the European model from bottom up
MEPs want a balance to be struck between professional sport’s commercial interests and its social functions, by strengthening the links between grassroots and elite sport. They call for more financial redistribution between professional and grassroots sport and propose the creation of a solidarity mechanism by sports federations to ensure adequate funding of amateur and grassroots sport.
Parliament wants the Commission and member states to do their utmost to encourage physical activity among EU citizens, especially young people of all backgrounds, by increasing the number of hours allotted to physical education and activities in schoolsand via the use of role models and sport ambassadors.
Ensuring safe and equal sport
MEPs also want to address gender inequality and harassment in sports, in particular when it comes to pay and equal representation on the boards of sports organisations , and they want European media to give more coverage to a wider range of sports and in particular women’s and youth sports.
Today’s text also demands the safeguarding of children from abuse and harassment in sports including by providing access to help, advice, and timely protection.
Furthermore, national sports federations should level premium payments for female and male athletes, following the example of the Football Association of Ireland, according to Parliament.
Uphold human rights and democratic principles
The resolution urges public authorities, sports federations and organisations to uphold human rights and democratic principles in all of their actions, especially when awarding countries host status for major sporting events, and in their choice of sponsors. MEPs insist countries whose governments repeatedly violate fundamental rights and values should no longer be able to host major sporting events.
Tomasz Frankowski (EPP, PL), rapporteur, said: “Sport has a tremendous power to unite people, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender or socioeconomic status. It keeps us happy, healthy and allows us to learn throughout our lives. It is also an important branch of the economy, making up almost 3% of the EU’s GDP” and thus needs “more visibility and more action at the EU level”.
He called on the European Commission to appoint a separate coordinator for sports and concluded by saying that the main challenge was “to promote the European model of sport and protect it from threats such as a Super League.”