The EU should become more involved with Europe’s sporting landscape to encourage a fairer model that aligns with EU values of inclusiveness and fairness. In a report adopted by the Committee on Culture and Education by 29 votes to 1 and 1 abstentions, MEPs want the EU to shape the European sports culture in accordance with EU values of solidarity, sustainability, inclusiveness, open competition, and fairness. MEPs express strong opposition to “breakaway competitions that undermine these standards and endanger the stability of the overall sports ecosystem”.

Respect of values in sports

MEPs are asking for a balance to be struck between professional sport’s commercial interests with its social functions, to be achieved by strengthening links between the grassroots level and elite sport. For instance, sports federations should establish a solidarity mechanism to channel funds into amateur and grassroots sport. MEPs also want to tackle gender inequality in sports, in particular when it comes to pay and equal representation on the boards of sports organisations and want European media to ensure more equal coverage of men’s and women’s sporting events.

Countries whose governments repeatedly violate fundamental rights and values should no longer be able to host major sporting events. Member states and sports federations should also consider human rights and democracy when choosing sponsors for sporting events.

In the report adopted, MEPs also recommend:

  • safeguard children from abuse and harassment in sports including by providing advice and protection at EU and national levels;
  • more transparency in the player transfer markets via an EU framework for player transfers that includes EU labour market standards and financial regulations;
  • using the German football club ownership “50+1” rule (private investors are only allowed to own up to 49% of the shares) as a best practice for other countries;
  • national sports federations should equalise premium payments for female and male athletes, following the example of the Football Association of Ireland;
  • promoting an active lifestyle for EU citizens via the use of role models and sport ambassadors, and by increasing the number of hours allotted to physical education and activities in schools;
  • increasing the media visibility of competitions involving athletes with disabilities;
  • using the social weight of elite sport to raise the awareness of issues faced by LGTBQI+ people;
  • adding sport to the title of the portfolio of the responsible Commissioner;
  • paying attention to the working conditions of construction workers involved in building sports infrastructure;
  • increasing the participation of stakeholders from the world of sport in the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Parliament will vote on the report during the November plenary session in Strasbourg on 22 – 25 November.