This week, the President of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), Francesco Ricci Bitti, participated in a high-level panel discussion at the EU Sport Forum, organised by the European Commission on 16 and 17 June 2022 in Lille, France. During the debate ‘European Sport: fair, inclusive and fit for the future’, which was moderated by Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, the ASOIF President explained how solidarity is at the heart of the European Sport Model and, more largely, of not-for-profit international sport.
“The solidarity principle is closely linked to a financial re-distribution mechanism, but its sphere of influence is much larger,” he said. “It nurtures a large sports participation base at grassroots level because any profit made through events and activities at elite level are reinvested at the lower levels into sport development. Therefore, it is a powerful catalyst for ‘Sport for All’, granting access for as many people as possible to social, educational, and cultural values through sport.”
The ASOIF President outlined how the Olympic Games remain the most important competition and respected catalyst to shape the solidarity mechanism of modern sport. He also addressed pressing challenges, in particular the creation of closed breakaway leagues violating the openness of competitions and causing a congestion of the international sport calendar.
“This situation makes it more urgent to safeguard the values of the solidarity model of organised sport while still embracing progress and new ideas,” said Francesco Ricci Bitti. “We urgently need a closer collaboration between sport organisations, public authorities and commercial entities for the good of sport.”
He referred to ASOIF’s recently published position paper “The solidarity model of organised sport in Europe and beyond - A stable platform for collaboration”, which aims at contributing to a better understanding of the role International Federations (IFs) play in the global organisation of sport, and to a more informed debate on its future. For instance, it will be crucial that IFs continue to coordinate the international sport calendar and the global sporting rules in order to protect the integrity of the competitions and the well-being of athletes. The paper explains the rationale and lays out a framework with clear commitments on how IFs, public authorities and commercial entities can work together. Learn more here.
In the presence of Vadym Huttsait, Minister of Youth and Sports of Ukraine, and Sergey Bubka, President of the Ukrainian National Olympic Committee and Member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Francesco Ricci Bitti reiterated ASOIF’s position on the war in Ukraine. He condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and underlined the IFs’ support of the Ukrainian sport community as well as of the IOC’s recommendations on this important matter.
Other speakers on the panel included Bjørn Berge, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe; Mary Charalambous Papamiltiades, Director General of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth of Cyprus; Spyros Capralos, President of European Olympic Committees; and Gilles Quénéhervé, Director at the French Ministry of Sports.
On the occasion of the Forum, the ASOIF President also met and exchanged views with the newly appointed French Minister of Sport and the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra.
Click here to learn more about the EU Sport Forum.