EU Sport Forum 2016: How can sport contribute to tackle EU realities and challenges

EU Sport Forum 2016: How can sport contribute to tackle EU realities and challenges

On 9th and 10th of March 2016 was held the EU Sport Forum in The Hague (Netherlands) under the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union. As the largest gathering of sport stakeholders in Europe the 2-day event gathered over 350 participants to discuss the future of sport and especially its contribution to EU challenges, realities and policies.

 The variety of stakeholders -leading representatives from European institutions, international and European sport federations, the Olympic movement, European and national sport umbrella organisations and other sport-related organisations- together with the participation of Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, clearly demonstrated the strong commitment and expectations of and from the sector at European level.

Alongside the consultative work on the EU Work Plan for Sport 2014-2017, the EU Sport Forum 2016 provided an opportunity to debate EU policy and focus on three main aspects: (1) the role of sport to support the integration of migrants, (2) towards good governance for the world of sport and (3) preparations for the 2016 edition of the European Week of Sport.

A special attention was given to the challenging topic of the integration of migrants and refugees and on how the European grassroots sport can support and contribute to such realities. It is recognised that sport offers hope, uniting people across communities. In particular, EU Commissioner Tibor Navracics mentioned that “Grassroots sport helps to make social inclusion happen. That is why we must promote it”. The role of sport clubs and associations towards this issue was discussed as well as their capacity and the need for new skills for the paid and unpaid workforce.

As mentioned, the topic of Good Governance was at the heart of the debates. The overall message was that it is the right time for the sport world to engage into good governance practices and attitude but also for governments to act, and the European Union is a good framework for such action. In particular, EU Commissioner Tibor Navracics promised an activist line as he told participants that the EC will launch an initiative during the European Week of Sport in September 2016, and put it forward as a way to “drive reform”. In addition, Edith Schippers, Dutch minister of health, welfare and sport, said that “all 28 governments in the European Union should make consistent conditions for sports federations with regards to transparency, human rights issues and labour conditions before spending taxpayers’ money on bidding for events”. Some EU funded projects and initiatives were mentioned as good practice towards Good Governance during the Forum, which was the case of the SIGGS project led by the EOC EU office and of which EOSE is a partner. This project aims to promote and support good governance in sport by providing practical guidance to National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and national sport federations (NFs) on how to implement principles of good governance in order to enhance their governance.


EOSE was represented by Thierry Zintz, President, and Aurélien Favre, Executive Director. As a European civil society organisation, it was important for EOSE to participate and deliver a message on the role of sport in promoting citizenship and common values. This was made by Thierry Zintz as one of the rapporteurs of the High Level Group on Sport Diplomacy who -together with Valérie Fourneyron- provided an update of the work undertaken by this group and put emphasised on the potential of the soft power of sport. As part of his speech he reminded a quote form Nelson Mandela “Sport is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers” and called upon sport to be mainstreamed in EU Funded Programmes towards Neighbouring Countries to unlock its potential. On behalf of the High Level Group, he also highlighted that the sector can help with social inclusion of minorities and vulnerable groups considering its potential to address wider EU agendas. Interestingly, the potential of sport diplomacy will be at the heart of the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the European Union (July-December 2016).

EOSE also used the forum as a networking opportunity to meet, discuss and exchange with various organisations on the realities, priorities and challenges of the sector, but also to explore any potential opportunities of collaborations and synergies with these stakeholders.

List of participants as well as live streaming are available at  and key presentations will shortly be made available

Note: Skecthing were made by Edwin Stoop ( 

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EOSE – European Observatoire of Sport and Employment

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