The European sports model is deeply rooted in European civil society and is an important expression of European culture and attitude towards sporting values. It is a democratic model that serves to ensure sport remains open to everyone, underpinned by the twin principles of financial solidarity and openness of competition.
The unprecedented development of the economic dimension of some professional sports, driven in particular by television rights, puts this European sports model at risk.
To safeguard the interests of sport and the benefits that sport, both professional and amateur, delivers to society, the Parliamentary Assembly urges the governments of member states to uphold the European sports model by acknowledging the specificity of sport and protecting the autonomy of the sports federations.
It also calls on Council of Europe member states that have not yet done so to accede to the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport.
The hearing was opened at 10.45 a.m. by Mr Schneider, chairperson of the sub-committee, France, who welcomed all the participants.
Mr Arnaut, rapporteur, Portugal, thanked the representatives of international sports organisations for their presence. Europe had common values, which were recognised worldwide: culture, human rights and sport. He invited participants to help him identify the issues on which the Assembly should work in order to preserve the European sports model.
The European sports model was democratic, open, based on the promotion/relegation of teams, on financial solidarity and structured as a pyramid. Sport was different from other economic activities and needed therefore specific rules. In this time of globalisation and economic pressure some of the major problems facing sport were: illegal betting, racism, xenophobia, match fixing and corruption. It was necessary to preserve the autonomy of sports bodies and ensure their good governance.
With this report the Council of Europe should send a strong political signal.
Mr Weingärtner, Director of Youth and Sport, presented the work of the Council of Europe in the field of sport and in particular the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport, which had been signed in May 2007.
Mr Pescante, Executive Board member, International Olympic Committee (IOC), pointed out that the world of sport expected much from European institutions and in particular from the Council of Europe, which had a far wider basis than the EU. Without the work of the Council of Europe in anti-doping, WADA would not have been possible. Mr Arnaut had presented an excellent report but it was very much focused on professional football: it should now be widened to non-professional football and to other sports. The problems mentioned did not exist in most sports. Such problems were often on the side of spectators, not of athletes.
A pyramid structure existed in most sports all over the world. Fundamental values such as autonomy and specificity should, however, be preserved. The Council of Europe could do much in raising the awareness of national parliaments and governments to the millions of volunteers working in the field of sports.
Mr Arnaut insisted that the European was different from the American sport model. The dimension of football in Europe was overwhelming and therefore its problems were much more visible. He agreed that sport should continue to play a role in the fight against racism and xenophobia.
Mr Champagne, delegate for special affairs, International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), felt that the European model was in fact a world model. It was in danger as many wished to use sport instead of serving it. Some of the consequences were already there, such as the lack of young European players (as clubs preferred to bring in confirmed players from other continents than train young Europeans). The problems being worldwide, their solutions could not be only European. European institutions should address the lack of fiscal harmonisation, which, for instance, gave an important advantage to British clubs and had an impact on sport results. As a consequence of freedom of movement, those clubs which had more non-local players had been advantaged. For the last thirteen years FIFA had been asking, without success, for the recognition of the specificity of sport.
Mr Poczobut, International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), noted that the same ideas were being discussed for more than ten years. Europe could share its values with other parts of the world as in the case of anti-doping where WADA had been set up on the initiative of European countries. A special branch of Interpol should be created to deal with anti-doping. In addition Europe should do something about the public financing of sport in general, not only football.
Mr Gaillard, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), was also representing FIBA Europe (basketball), EHF (handball), IIHF (ice hockey) and CEV (volleyball). The pollution of sport by money was not exclusive to football as Formula 1, tennis and golf, for instance, also involved huge financial means. Mr Arnaut’s report opened good perspectives. The massive arrival in European sport of non-European money aimed at making fortunes very rapidly was worrying and there were already threats of closed leagues. Also worrying was the interference of justice: the EU Court of Justice had recently denied the specificity of sport while discussing how many grams of nandrolone should be considered doping. It was urgent that the specificity of sport was recognised.
Mr Arnaut recalled that the Council of Europe had no executive power. He hoped that the representative of the EU Council Presidency would convey what was being said to the EU. Another example of the bad influence of money in sport was the declaration by the French football club Paris Saint Germain that its aim for the current year was 8% return on investment, rather than to win the championship.
Mr Géveaux, France, regretted the lack of coherence between the different European legal systems. Measures should be taken to prevent a person or an institution from owning more that one club. The Council of Europe had played an important role in WADA but it needed the support of the sport federations.
For Mr Gjeloshaj, Director of Educational Services, International University Sports Federation (FISU), most reports were about those sports that attracted the attention of the media. The role that sport could play in education was not sufficiently brought forward. It was important to prevent sports stadiums from becoming lawless places, which would happen if for instance racists felt that they were free to express their views there.
Mrs Brasseur, Luxembourg, noted the gender imbalance in the present meeting, which illustrated the fact that sport bodies were very much still a man’s business. She favoured a large autonomy for sport federations but these should not adopt too strict regulations, such as those which effectively prevented football matches from taking place in Luxembourg. She had participated in the meeting of European Ministers for Sport when the inclusion of sport in the European treaty had been discussed. In Luxembourg there were no legal sanctions for athletes as it was considered that this was the competence of the federations.
Mr Gaillard assured her of UEFA’s solidarity.
Mr Verbruggen, Acting President, General Association of International Sports Federations (AGFIS/GAISF), pointed out that the problems were not specific to sport but were problems of society. Mr Arnaut’s report was too much centred on team sports and in particular football. FIFA, UEFA and the two or three other major sport federations stood a world apart from the 60 or 70 sports federations which did not have enough human or financial means. Most had a staff of between nine and 15 and many were much smaller than their national members.
Mr Arnaut said that he did not intend to address professional sport to the detriment of amateur sport. He was well aware of the particular problems of the small federations. However small, these should work with transparency and professionalism.
Mr Bertels, Executive Director, International Hockey Federation (FIH), informed the participants that his federation had 122 member associations, of which 42 were in Europe. The FIH had a staff of only 13. He wondered to what extent the European sports model should be a priority compared to the needs of other continents. It was important to keep sport interesting, as also stated in paragraph 9 of Mr Arnaut’s report, and to export its values to other continents. On the other hand, he could not agree with the challenges indicated in the report.
Mr Arnaut recalled that the Council of Europe was a European organisation and therefore his report dealt with sport in a European perspective. He asked Mr Bertels to make a further submission of what would be the challenges worth addressing from the point of view of his federation.
Mr Ryan, Director, Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), pointed out that the European sports model should be seen in the global context.
Mr Mazzi, President, European Motorcycle Union (UEM), regretted that much had been said about team sports and not enough about individual sports. He drew attention to the fact that too constraining environmental laws might kill some sports. Fiscal harmonisation at the European level was needed.
Mr Legendre, Chairman of the Committee on Culture, Science and Education, France, complimented the participants for the quality and frankness of the debate.
Mr Geistlinger, Secretary General, International Biathlon Union (IBU), wondered how Europe could offer a sports model that was attractive for other continents without risking loosing its own values.
Mr Guillaume, President, International Billiards and Snooker Federation (IBSF), said that his federation was 100% amateur and had 38 million players in China alone. In England there was a professional league linked to Eurosport which did not follow the European sports model at all. The word “voluntary”, which was a key aspect of European sport, was missing from the report. Some countries lacked a democratic tradition and this had consequences on the level of sport.
Mr Pescante thanked the organisers of the hearing and called for the dialogue to be pursued. The world of sport was the best ally of the Council of Europe in its aim of improving young people. The Council of Europe had the authority to call on governments not to interfere with sport when this could be avoided. Racism, even on the field of sport, was the competence of the law.
Mr Arnaut thanked all the participants for a constructive and open dialogue.
Mr Schneider closed the hearing at 1.30 p.m.
Mr José Luís Arnaut, Portugal, rapporteur
Mrs Anne Brasseur, Luxembourg
Mrs Åse Gunhild Woie Duesund, Norway
Mr Jean-Marie Geveaux, France
Mrs Sinikka Hurskainen, Finland
Mr Luchezar Ivanov, Bulgaria
Mr Jacques Legendre, Chairman of the Committee on Culture, Science and Education, France
Mrs Maria Manuela de Melo, Portugal
Mr Edward O’Hara, United Kingdom
Mr Azis Pollozhani, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”
Lord Russell-Johnston, United Kingdom
Mr André Schneider, Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Youth and Sport, France
Mr Hans Bertels, Executive Director FIH – International Hockey Federation
Mr Jérome Champagne, delegate for special affairs, FIFA, International Federation of Association Football
Ms Monika Flixeder, Senior Manager, EHF, European Handball Federation
Mr William Gaillard, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, UEFA, Union of European Football Associations
Mr Michael Geistlinger, Secretary General, IBU, International Biathlon Union
Mr Kolë Gjeloshaj, Director of Educational Services, FISU, International University Sports Federation
Mr Pascal Guillaume, President, IBSF, International Billiards and Snooker Federation
Mr Vincenzo Mazzi, President, UEM, European Motorcycle Union
Mr Andrew Moger, Co-ordinator of News Media Alliance and Adviser to European Publishers Council
Mr Mario Pescante, Executive Board member, IOC, International Olympic Committee
Mr Jean Poczobut, IAAF, International Association of Athletics Federations
Mr Andrew Ryan, Director, ASOIF, Association of Summer Olympic International Federations
Mr Hein Verbruggen, Acting President, AGFIS/GAISF, General Association of International Sports Federations
Mr José Eduardo Vieira, Chairmanship of the EU Council, Senior Adviser, Secretariat of State for Youth and Sport, Portugal
Mrs Judit Faragó, Executive Vice-President, ITTF, International Table Tennis Federation
Directorate General IV – Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport
Mr René Weingärtner, Director of Youth and Sport
Mrs Ita Mirianashvili, Sport Department
Mr Stanislas Frossard, Sport Department
Ms Irena Aradavoaicei, Sport Department
Mr Christopher Grayson, Head of Secretariat for Culture, Science and Education
Mr João Ary, Secretary to the Committee on Culture, Science and Education
Mr Rüdiger Dossow, co-Secretary to the Committee on Culture, Science and Education
Mrs Julie Bertalmio, administrative assistant
Mrs Sandra Kssis, assistant
Reporting committee: Committee on Culture, Science and Education.
Reference to committee: Doc. 11159 and Reference No. 3315 of 16 March 2007.
Draft resolution adopted unanimously by the committee on 10 December 2007.
Members of the committee: Mr Jacques Legendre (Chairperson), Baroness Hooper (Vice-Chairperson), Mr Wolfgang Wodarg (Vice-Chairperson), Mrs Anne Brasseur (Vice-Chairperson), Mr Hans Ager, Mr Kornél Almássy, Mrs Donka Banović, Mr Lars Barfoed, Mr Rony Bargetze, Mr Walter Bartoš, Mrs Marie-Louise Bemelmans-Videc, Mr Radu Mircea Berceanu, Mr Levan Berdzenishvili, Mrs Oksana Bilozir, Mrs Guðfinna Bjarnadóttir, Mrs Maria Luisa Boccia, Mrs Margherita Boniver, Mr Ivan Brajovic, Mr Osman Coşkunoğlu, Mr Vlad Cubreacov, Mr Ivica Dačić, Mr Joseph Debono Grech, Mr Ferdinand Devínsky, Mr Daniel Ducarme, Mrs Åse Gunhild Woie Duesund, Mr Detlef Dzembritzki, Mrs Anke Eymer, Mr Relu Fenechiu, Mrs Blanca Fernández-Capel, Mrs Maria Emelina Fernández Soriano, Mr Axel Fischer, Mr José Freire Antunes, Mr Ioannis Giannellis-Theodosiadis, Mr Stefan Glǎvan, Mr Vladimir Grachev, Mr Andreas Gross, Mr Raffi Hovannisian, Mr Rafael Huseynov, Mr Fazail İbrahimlı, Mrs Halide İncekara, Mrs Evguenia Jivkova, Mr Morgan Johansson, Mrs Liana Kanelli, Mrs Cecilia Keaveney, Mr Ali Rashid Khalil, Mr József Kozma, Mr Jean-Pierre Kucheida, Mr Markku Laukkanen, Mr Yves Leterme, Mrs Jagoda Majska-Martinčević, Mrs Milica Marković, Mr Tomasz Markowski, Mrs Muriel Marland-Militello, Mr Andrew McIntosh, Mr Ivan Melnikov, Mrs Maria Manuela de Melo, Mrs Assunta Meloni, Mr Paskal Milo, Mrs Christine Muttonen, Mrs Miroslava Němcová, Mr Edward O’Hara, Mr Kent Olsson, Mr Andrey Pantev, Mrs Antigoni Papadopoulos, Mr Azis Pollozhani, Mrs Majda Potrata, Mr Lluís Maria de Puig, Mr Zbigniew Rau, Mrs Anta Rugāte, Mr Indrek Saar, Mr André Schneider (alternate: Mr Philippe Nachbar), Mr Urs Schweitzer, Mr Vitaliy Shybko, Mrs Geraldine Smith (alternate: Mr Robert Walter), Mrs Albertina Soliani, Mr Yury Solonin, Mr Christophe Spiliotis-Saquet, Mr Valeriy Sudarenkov, Mr Petro Symonenko, Mr Mehmet Tekelioğlu, Mr Piotr Wach, Mr Emanuelis Zingeris.
NB: The names of those members present at the meeting are printed in bold.
See 7th Session, 24 January 2008 (adoption of the draft resolution); and Resolution 1602.