Summer 2020: Update on European Sport Affairs

While the COVID-19 pandemic has cast a midst of uncertainty and has caused our societies to rapidly adapt, European sport affairs were not brought to a standstill. Sport and Citizenship also managed to remain active through different virtual events and meetings, that are reviewed below.

Position paper on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the sport sector, SHARE initiative, April 2020

As an active member of the SHARE initiative, throughout the early days of lockdown across the European continent, Sport and Citizenship continued to participate in SHARE’s virtual activities which soon led to the drafting of a position paper on the impact of the CVOID-19 crisis on the sport sector. With a total of 43 signatories, representing the European sport and physical activity sector, the statement made a clear call for sport to be included in support and recovery mechanisms that the European Union was, then, discussing. The statement gained much visibility, and can be consulted here, along with our article.


EWoS Key players’ virtual Seminar, Sport Unit (DG EAC) June 9 & 10

The 2020 European Week of Sport’s (EWoS) #BeActive Campaign was officially launched on Olympic Day (June 23). As always, EWoS will take place between September 23-30 across the European continent through a variety of different activities, which all seek to promote, encourage and support citizens to adopt more active lifestyles. As an official partner, and alongside peers and national coordinators, Sport and Citizenship participated in the annual EWoS seminar on June 9 & 10. To find out more about EWoS, and activities near you, please consult the official webpage:


Virtual Sport Unit Breakfast, Sport Unit DG EAC- European Commission, June 15

To further uphold the permanent dialogue with civil society and stakeholders, the Sport Unit held the first virtual edition of their recurring policy breakfasts- ‘Update on EU activities in the field of sport’. The Commission provided a thorough overview of their activities during lockdown including the postponement of the Erasmus+ Sport call for projects (collaborative and small collaborative partnerships, not-for-profit European sport events), the launch of call for projects for the Pilot Projects and Preparatory Actions (Sport as a tool for integration and social inclusion of refugees; monitoring and coaching through sports of youngsters at risk of radicalisation; exchanges and mobility in sport, grassroots sport programmes and infrastructure innovation), the opening of the #BeInclusive EU Sport Awards applications. In addition, with the current EU Work Plan for sport coming to an end, stakeholders were informed on the progress on its report on implementation, and on the calendar post-2020 Work Plan- expected to be adopted November 2020.

Following further updates on foreseen activities in the field of sport, the floor was then given to the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU and to European Parliament’s Sport Group. Finally, the discussion turned to perspectives from the sport movement including presentations from the EOC EU Office, EuropeActive and Sport and Citizenship Think tank (Kiera Wason-Milne). The think tank took the opportunity to present four priority measures for the future of sport, which were published in May 2020, to contribute to responding to the socio-economic crisis COVID-19 cast over European societies. These recommendations attempt to account for the physical, mental, societal and economic benefits that the sport sector know sport and physical activity has the power to bring individuals and society.

1. Adapting urban planning to active mobility

Confinement and lockdown measures have cast old and new insights over social inequalities, including the unequal access to sport and physical activity (SPA)- which under lockdown has proven to be directly correlated with to citizens’ direct environment. Access to SPA has been drastically different for individuals following their financial means and their home environments. In this sense, access to SPA is dependent on one’s geographical location (rural or urban, access to nature and open spaces) and one’s housing situation (size of accommodation, access to garden or open spaces). Adapting urban planning to enable active cities, and in this case primarily active mobility, has once again proven its importance. Temporary urban designs encouraging and promoting safe active mobility should be made viable and sustainable post-crisis. The crisis should be seized as a catalyst to transform our urban environments into active ones. Adapting urban planning to active mobility allows for a greater access to SPA for all.

2. Creating adapted sport equipment for all disciplines

Boosting and fostering innovation to adapt sport equipment, especially for collective and group SPA, would ensure a smoother return to said activities- it may further pave the way should another pandemic or COVID wave affect our societies. Public stakeholders together with private actors should collaborate through virtual mediums, such as hackathons for example. Sparking collaborative innovation at national, regional and local level will further enable stakeholders to respond to the most pressing needs.

3. Rethinking and enhancing the volunteer status

The uncertainties that hang over the resumption of SPA, together with the ‘new’ sanitary and social distancing measures, heavily suggest that volunteering commitments and positions will need to be adapted. In order to reach out and appeal to younger groups a series of measures deserve further reflection: the use of virtual tools to bridge supply and demand; tangibly reinforcing a shared recognition of acquired skills and competences through the experience; sport organisations could adopt a more structured management of their volunteers (rendering tools available; informing on existing trainings; naming a referent); and creating a ‘sport civic service’, inspired by the traditional civic service but more flexible could also be contemplated. Following the crisis, more than ever, the volunteer status in sport must be given new added value, offering support to both sport organisations and volunteers.

4. Implementing a specific Sport Recovery Plan.

Long term, publicly-funded and innovative recovery plans dedicated to the sport sector should be considered for all of the sector’s stakeholders (federations, commercial entities, local sport organisations, etc), and could include a number of different incentives (such as taxes incentives and rebates; CSR and/or sustainability strategies, etc). Special focus on extra-curricular periods for youth, and on rural areas should be privileged. Developing tools to support and measure the impact of such public initiatives would bring valuable information and data on the cost-effectiveness of sport. Full vertical mobilisation for the sport sector will prove to be essential from Member States (regional and local authorities).


IRTS Networking Platform launch webinar, ISCA, June 23

On June 23rd our long standing partner ISCA held a webinar to mark the official launch of their new, very exciting, project that is supported by the European Union: Integration of Refugees Though Sport (IRTS) Networking Platform. The event included over 80 participants representing 60 stakeholder organisations from 27 different countries. The networking platform is articulated around three main objectives that are: to share know-how and experience, for stakeholders to learn from one another, and create a hub for stakeholders to find partners for future projects. To do so, IRTS plans four main activities:

  • IRTS Mentoring programme: less experienced individuals will be able to benefit from mentorship over a 12-month period, with 2 rounds of mentorships;
  • Online courses: three new courses will be added to that will enable learning, interaction and dialogue between users without requiring face-to-face meetings;
  • Awards: IRTS will create their own awards to encourage and put forth good practices and initiatives;
  • And finally, a number of different events will be organised to gather stakeholders. Stay tuned!

As leader of the FIRE project, Sport and Citizenship is delighted to be included in the IRTS network and looks forward to further contributing to it, notably through the experience gathered through the Football Including Refugees in Europe projet!

Review of the European Sport Charter, Council of Europe, July 6

The Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) of the Council of Europe, held a webinar concerning  the revision of the European Sport Charter (ESC), whose latest revision goes back to 2001. Sport and Citizenship’s Scientific Committee’s President, Colin Miège, is currently following the ongoing work. While the reviewal is yet to be finalised, a quick reminder that ESC offers European countries with a sport policy framework. Committed governments are to ensure that their citizens have opportunities to do sport under the ruling principles that sport:

  • Remains accessible to everybody,
  • Is available to children and young people in particular,
  • Is healthy, safe, fair, tolerant and built on high ethical values
  • Is capable of fostering personal self-fulfilment at all levels,
  • Is respectful of the environment,
  • Protects human dignity,
  • And is against all kinds of exploitation of those engaged in sport.

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