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Flaggen der Europäischen Union wehen im Wind vor dem Europa-Gebäude in Brüssel. (pa / dpa / Arne Immanuel Bänsch)

Initiative in the European Paralamment – a new sports policy for the European Union?

“1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 8 – 10 – 12 – 13 – 14 and 16. I almost said these are the lottery numbers for this week.” No, Sabine Verheyen did not announce any lottery numbers in the European Parliament on Tuesday. But a lot of money has already gone up – at least indirectly. Because the CDU politician announced the result of the vote in the Committee “Culture and Education”, that is, via the report: “EU Sports Policy – Evaluation of Possible Ways Forward”.

It contains more than 40 paragraphs on different topics in sport: including financial regulation, anti-corruption and doping, diversity, environmental sustainability. In popular and professional sports. Parliament will then vote on the report in November. And if all the demands of MEPs are met – European sport will look different.

“It will be a value-based sport or a sporting model in Europe. There will be a greater redistribution from professional sport to popular sport. More attention will also be given to physical activity. We have clearly indicated the rights of athletes,” says Viola von Kramon, MEP for Green Party. The European Parliament has demanded that a pure focus on profits undermine the values ​​of sport. There was no majority for this choice of words. However, the report is clear on some points.

The 50+1 rule as an example of “best practice”

Countries that repeatedly violate human rights should not be allowed to host major sporting events. Sports organizations must also consider human rights and democratic principles when selecting sponsors. Germany’s 50+1 rule in the Bundesliga is explicitly mentioned as an example of “best practice” for other countries. To distinguish it from models where clubs can simply be taken over by foreign investors without members being able to prevent it.

(dpa)Towards the EU Sports Strategy
While the United States or China already has a strategy for using sport for diplomatic purposes, this idea is still new in the European Union. Sociologist Albrecht Sonntag said it is about transmitting values ​​such as gender equality, sustainability and fundamental rights.

In addition, sports organizations must respect the established rhythm of international tournaments – a clear rejection of FIFA’s idea of ​​hosting the FIFA World Cup every two years.

A clause is also directed against competitions such as the Super League that want to be established outside the current framework. “With this report we are sending a clear signal against the rebellious competitions that undermine the system and threaten the stability of the sporting ecosystem. We believe that everyone has a right to participate – not just elite clubs. And we must all defend that,” Tomasz Frankowski. The EPP politician is the report’s lead author and a former Polish national footballer – so it’s not surprising that the report addresses current debates in football directly.

Discussion about sporting events in authoritarian countries

Viola von Kramon says not only the Premier League would have alerted MPs. Discussions about sporting events in authoritarian countries such as China and Belarus have raised awareness of the need for the European Union to become more involved in sports politics. “So you could say that there is a much larger group of colleagues in the European Parliament who are very sensitive and want to raise the issue. Whether the report as a whole in all its diversity, with all its points in full implementation really is coming, I don’t think so. But I think some points are important to many colleagues. “.

In doing so, the green politician also addresses the report’s biggest problem: first of all, it’s just a token wish list in Parliament. “These are policy recommendations, a report, without a legislative commitment,” Frankowski says. “We need more cooperation and a joint decision-making process with all involved.”

The speed skating rink glows in colorful light on a postage stamp.  (Ju Huanzong/Imago/Xinhua) (Ju Huanzong/Imago/Xinhua)“I advise my minister: do not go there!”
Calls are growing for a political boycott of the Winter Games in China. Diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger warns against overestimating the impact.

This may result in sports organizations taking only what is useful to them from the report. For example, when UEFA asked Deutschland Funk, UEFA welcomed the committee’s clear stance against the Premier League. When it comes to the 50+1 issue, UEFA wants to leave regulation to individual member states. No wonder, given that the president of Paris Saint-Germain, one of the French clubs Qatar supports, is a member of UEFA’s executive committee.

What does the dialogue between politics and sports look like?

This is why Volker Helmond doubts how many points in the report will actually be implemented in EU directives or regulations. Helmond has been heading the office of the European Olympic Committee since 2007. During this time there were already two similar reports. “And if you look back, what was actually recorded and implemented, you could say, I think, is relatively limited.”

Once again, it has a concrete proposal on what the dialogue between EU institutions and sport might look like. But he wanted such a dialogue because the report contained many positive suggestions.

Helmond sees no interference with the autonomy of sport in the sometimes far-reaching formulations. “I prefer to pose the counter-question and ask: Is the autonomy of the sport still existing in the form in which it may have existed at one time? We are financially closely linked to the powers of the state. This means that there is a certain degree of dependency anyway. And we, as a sport, We also apply a legal framework set by the European Union, but of course also through national laws. That is why this autonomy is really limited.”

Helmond sees an opportunity in the fact that parliamentarians in the report are calling for the promotion of more sustainable and barrier-free sports facilities. Thus, strengthening EU sports policy could also have very specific consequences for German sports clubs – even if major disputes are not resolved, there may at least be a new sports hall.