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A stone in the sports shoe

By ISCA, International Dance Organization and Play the Game

Acknowledging the diversity of the models of European sport is key to combating the decrease in sport participation and in supporting our recovery from the pandemic, including the HealthyLifestyl4All initiative.

To recover from the effects of the pandemic on sport and its costly decrease in physical activity among European citizens, and to reach the full potential of the sport sector in Europe, we need to build on inclusive communication and involvement from all stakeholders. Unfortunately, some myths about the term ‘European Model of Sport’ still create a skewed description of the reality, which is exclusive and counterproductive to the goal of engaging all stakeholders in the European sport sector.

Persisting misconceptions of the ‘European Model of Sport’ are, so to say, ‘a stone in the sports shoe’ and should be removed to assist freedom of movement!

There is a huge aspiration and commitment to realise the full potential of the European sport sector, from the European institutions through European initiatives and policy, which was recently exemplified in the European Parliament draft report on the study ‘EU sports policy: assessment and possible ways forward’. Additionally, Commissioner Gabriel is launching the HealthyLifestyl4All initiative to encourage everyone to utilise the full potential of cross-sector, health-enhancing initiatives.

These initiatives and their success rely on inclusion and commitment from all stakeholders in the sport sector. Therefore, we suggest to remove the exclusive and mistaken wordings from the Draft Council Resolution on the European Model of Sport’.

Remove the exclusive reference to ‘one federation per sport’.

Cherish and support the freedom of association as a fundamental principle, also of sport.

Remove the reference to a ‘pyramidal structure encompassing all levels of sport from grassroots to elite sport’.

Acknowledge and recognise the ‘diversity of models and approaches across sports and countries’ and that the vast majority of citizens are active outside the pyramid of competitions.

Remove the postulation of ‘financial solidarity between top-level sport and grassroots sport’.

Consider that grassroots sport is primarily financed by the participants and the public sector, and note that revenue streams often go in the opposite direction – i.e. from the grassroots to the elite.

Characteristics of sport in the European Countries

Diversity in the organisation of sport.

  • European sport consists of a variety of settings; self-organised, private for profit and not least not for profit voluntary based sport clubs.
  • The not-for-profit sector is diverse. The majority of countries have diverse organisational structures including single sport federations; national organisations are typically oriented towards grassroots and sport participation; theme and target group oriented organisations, such as school sport associations, company sport associations, senior sport associations, etc.

Diversity in financing of sport

  • Funding of grassroots sport, health and participation oriented sport comes primarily from participants/citizens themselves.
  • Several countries give significant public support to grassroots sport, health and participation primarily from municipal level. This public support varies from 0 to +100 euros per capita.
  • State level public support varies in size and whether it targets primarily elite or grassroots sport. It often comes from lottery income.

Inequality in participation level

  • Huge differences between citizens’ participation levels across countries. The Eurobarometer on Sport 2018 shows a variation between countries from 68% to 13% of citizens stating they never exercise or play sport.
This comment piece has been presented to the European Parliament in response to its ‘Draft report on EU sports policy: assessment on possible ways forward’ and the ‘Draft Council Resolution on the European Model of Sport’ in advance of the CULT Committee meeting held on 31 August 2021.

Posted on 30/08/2021 by ISCA, International Dance Organization and Play the Game


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