On 8 and 9 March 2017, the European Commission, together with the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU, organised the annual EU Sport Forum in St Julian’s, Malta. For this edition, the Commission divided activities between plenary sessions, focusing on traditional EU topics such as grassroots sport and good governance, and workshops targeting specific, and in some cases not yet well explored areas, such as gender-based violence in sport, role of agents, volunteering or e-sports.
Following a general introduction by Mark Cujatar, Deputy President of the Maltese National Olympic Committee, three high level speakers opened the Forum: Jens Nymand-Christensen, Deputy Director General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture at the European Commission, Petra Kammerevert, Chair of the CULT Committee of the European Parliament, and Janez Kocijančič, acting President of the European Olympic Committees. Jens Nymand-Christensen insisted on the necessity to restore public trust on the integrity of sport and underlined the actions already taken by the European Union in this direction, notably through the support of the Programme Erasmus+ Sport.
Janez Kocijančič emphasised the recent progress regarding the cooperation and the understanding between the EU and the sport movement recalling that, despite the importance of the autonomy of sport organisations, sport always is an important and integral part of society. In addition, he asked the European Union and the general public to not only focus on challenges that sport organisations face, but also to underline their positive initiatives and activities.
Following these introductory words, Elena Malikova, in charge of Sport for the Slovak Presidency of the EU in 2016, and Heidi Pekkola, Sport Director of the European Non-Governmental Sports Organisations (ENGSO) discussed the follow-up of the High Level groups on Grassroots Sport and Sport Diplomacy.
The rest of the first day was organised in different workshops, including discussions on anti-doping or the environmental impact of sport. On anti-doping, an interesting panel debate was organised between Chris Agius (Maltese presidency of the Council), Jens Nymand-Christensen, Benjamin Cohen (World Anti-Doping Agency), Michael McNamee (Professor at Swansea University) and Rozle Prezelj (Chair of the IAAF Athletes Commission). Nymand-Christensen started by recalling that the fight against doping should be focused on both grassroots and professional sport while Benjamin Cohen underlined the close link between WADA’s functioning and the willingness of its stakeholders to support.
Entitled “Greening the Sport“, another panel provided space for an interesting discussion on the environmental impact of sport, and the prospects that “going green” can bring. Andreas Klages, Deputy Director of Sport Development for the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), stressed that “making sport environmentally friendly is an opportunity to be more innovative”.
Two other topics were on the Forum's Agenda for the second day: the future of grassroots sport in Europe and Good Governance in sport. The panel on the latter started with Darren Baily (Chair of the Council Expert Group on Good Governance) who stated that, even if several sport organisations already started the process to improve their governance, more efforts are still necessary, notably regarding the inclusion of stakeholders. He also stressed the necessity to be patient with sport organisations, as improving their governance required a long-term strategy and an evolution of the global culture of the organisation. Furthermore, Janez Kocijančič pointed to the different actions already taken by the Olympic Movement, including the Olympic Agenda 2020 and the SIGGS project conducted by the EOC EU Office, to improve the governance not only of the National Olympic Committees, but also of national, European and international federations.
In parallel to the different sessions, the SIGGS Project of the EOC EU Office used the opportunity to promote the outcomes of the project as well as to invite all the participants from sport organisations to make use of the self-evaluation tool at a dedicated information stand.
Website EU Sport Forum 2017