Exclusive interview with Marc Tarabella

Exclusive interview with Marc Tarabella

Mr Marc Tarabella is a Belgium citizen and a Member of the European Parliament since 2004. He is officialy acting as Co-Chair of the Sport Intergoup at the European Parliament since the approval of the list of intergoups on 11th of December 2014 by the Conference of Presidents.
It is a pleasure and an honour for EOSE that he agreed to be the first MEP to take part to our series of exclusive interviews. While sharing his thoughts on the sport and active leisure sector, he offered us a priceless perspective on European current and upcoming challenges and opportunities.

Enjoy the read!



As co-chair, would you mind telling us more about the functioning of the Sport Intergroup,? What does it means for the sport sector in terms of recognition (in the past the group was an informal one)? What will be the Sport Intergroup priority under your mandate?

MT: “This intergroup intends to address issues central to Sport such as health, education, corruption, social inequalities or doping. Monthly Conferences, events and discussions gathering the important stakeholders will be organised. For instances, we intend to invite international organisations such as the FIFA or the Olympic Committee. However, the official creation of the intergroup does not only aim at discussing topics related to sport but also at acting as a legislative detonator improving the Sport sector to develop in the right and most democratic way. That is what this intergroup has been created for and will attempt to contribute to along its existence, even after my mandate.”


You have been pushing for many years now regarding the adoption of a European status for foundations, cooperative and associations. Where are we now in such a process? According to you, what could be the impact of such a status in terms of employment and mobility? Do you see any specific impact for the sport and active leisure sector?

MT: “Associations play a crucial role in the social economy and have a positive impact on employment and mobility but it is foremost a fundamental right of citizens to associate and be active within the European public sphere. Unfortunately, since 2005 (in the context of Barroso’s “Refit”), the process of recognising a European status for associations has been blocked. The EP and the EESC are still complaining about this decision but their room for manoeuvre is still quite restricted. 

Having a European status for associations would further help to the shaping of Europe’s democratic and economic dimension. I believe its impacts on the sport sector can be considerable as well. Indeed, the recognition of their status at a European level would empower such associations to develop their activities but also to improve the cooperation between Member States. Moreover, a European Status for associations in the sport sector would give the civil society a greater dimension to play its role, which the sector really needs.


You are also highly involved in the fight against violence. As a follow up to your written declaration  and in the light of the recent events at Europa League games (in Kiev and Rotterdam), which arbitration would you made between education/prevention and repression? Would you support the concept of a competence framework and a devoted qualifying training at European level for Safety related positions?

MT: “I believe that sport can greatly contribute to the fight against violence even if it sometimes embodies violence in itself. With good infrastructures and trainers, sport also plays a role of education and therefore prevention. As the adage says, prevention is better than cure. It is of course also true in sport. Thus, a competence framework or training at EU level for safety would be a good initiative. However, we cannot let violence unpunished. The behaviour of some supporters such as recently Feyenoord fans in Rome or Chelsea’s fans in Paris was totally unacceptable and I approve that the UEFA was eager to take sanctions.” 


You are also very much active through your position at the “Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality”. According to you could and should sport play a special role in your proposal to establish a “European Year on Combating Violence against Women”? Could we imagine a wide embrace of the “HeForShe” campaign throughout the sector?

MT: “Indeed, women are not only concerned by violence in the households but also by violence on the sports field. A communication campaign comparable to the #heforshe one (that I admire) in the sport sector could have a very positive impact on all fields of life and contribute to further raise awareness of the people on this sensitive issue.”


EOSE is an active partner of the SCORE project led by ENGSO and funded by the European Commission through the Erasmus+ Sport Chapter.  The aim of the project is to promote equal opportunities, namely gender equality in coaching. According to you how it is that sport is still seen as a male bastion? 

MT: “I think that sport (professional or not) is in an on-going process towards more gender equality and I could not be happier about it. However, much remains to do. In the Sport Intergroup, the ratio of women is around 35% and most of them are proactive members, which I’m very glad of (e.g. Vice-chairs).”


The European Parliament recently set sport the challenge to demonstrate/prove the impact it can have on young people. What would be your expectations in this field? 

MT: “I believe that sport is the best mean to positively impact young people because it speaks to them. The EP has taken the right direction in investing and promoting it as a social and economic driver. I therefore hope that our efforts in that process will provide the necessary input to help meeting with EU2020 targets such as reducing poverty, increasing youth employment or reducing early school leaving rates.”


Last but not least, the intention of EOSE and its network is to lead to the modernisation of sport training systems allowing the  sector to realise its entire potential. What are your views on developing the potential of sport as an economic and social driver?

MT: “As said in the previous question, I truly believe sport has the huge potential to play as an economic and social driver. It has the unique power to gather people from all types of society behind one common goal. This has to be preserved and developed further. Europe needs more than ever to be united behind a common goal and investing in the sport sector can be the best way to achieve it.”


Interview by Carole Ponchon, EOSE European PR & Projects manager

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