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Big Sports Catch-up For EU

  • July 16th, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

tour-de-france-adjust.jpgAs people in Europe delight in one of the great Summer rituals, the Tour de France, plans have come out for a major scale clean-up and warm-up for a new era in European sports.


It’s been an admittedly sedentary activity so far, the writing and publication of a European Commission policy paper and an Action Plan, for a new all-European sports strategy.

The lead paragraphs for the policy White Paper show there’s deep concern behind it, both to seize on opportunities and get many sporting runs on the board, and to deal with some insidious problems of society:

“Sport is a growing social and economic phenomenon which makes important contributions to the European Union’s strategic objectives of solidarity and prosperity. The Olympic ideal of developing sport to promote peace and understanding among nations and cultures as well as the education of young people was born in the European Union and has been fostered by the International Olympic Committee and the European Olympic Committee …

“However sport is also confronted with new threats and challenges which have emerged in European society, such as commercial pressure, exploitation of young players, doping, racism, violence, corruption and money laundering…”


The prescription is for a very big project which if followed through stands to penetrate into many aspects of life, and could do much for good health and better behaviour among the citizens; (hopefully even less diving and foxing in the World Cup soccer in future).

The activities foreshadowed point to, for Europe, a first-ever, large-scale sporting commitment that should catch up with national training, support and public education programs anywhere in the world.

It is early days, starting with a research effort and much work between governments, branching out from the initial hook-up with the Olympic organisation and the Olympic inspiration.

Some of the steps foreshadowed in the documents now made public:

• An EU public health program 2007-13
• Proposals for new law enforcement partnerships across borders to control doping
• Funding for programs under existing Vocational Qualifications and Lifelong Learning schemes
• Schools actively backing physical activities will earn a promotional EU label or badge
• Coordination of actions under the EU’s programs for dealing with disability and for promoting equality between men and women
• An attack on racialist and xenophobic attitudes under Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE); exchanges of information for law enforcement agencies to prevent violent and racist incidents, and consideration of new EU laws or other legal standards to prevent public disorder at sports events.

Footnote: Fitness practice and elite sports performance in Europe already rate highly; the EU “wins” the Olympic Games on medal tallies, if the 27 countries are put together as one competitor – as the republics of the Soviet Union used to be.


European Commission, Sport and the European Union (information paper); (16.7.07)

Commission of the European Communities, White Paper on Sport, Brussels, 11.7.07, COM(2007) 391 final; (16.7.07)

Commission of the European Communities, Commission Staff Working Document: Action Plan “Pierre Coubertin”, accompanying document to the White Paper on Sport, Brussels 11.7.07, SEC (2007)934; (16.7.07)