• Polona Fonda

ENGSO on European Sports Charter and Human Rights in sport

On Friday, 15 January 2021, ENGSO Secretary General Sara Massini participated in the 16th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for sport (Ministerial roundtable) and presented the position of ENGSO on the future of the European Sports Charter and Human Rights in sport.


More than 160 participants attended the online event which was chaired by the Greek Deputy Minister for Sport, Lefteris Avgenakis.


In the second part of the conference, Sara Massini presented the position of ENGSO and highlighted the urgent need to consider sport as a fundamental right.


Read the full statement below.


The past year, represented an epochal change in the way we have lived so far. The distancing necessary to counter the spread of Covid19 has impacted not only our way of working, traveling, and organizing our days but also our way of relating.


In this scenario, many countries in Europe have chosen to stop sport, with particular reference to local sport clubs which have always represented the tool for the physical and mental development of people and contributing to building a stronger civil society. In recent months, phenomena of deprivations, exclusions, and family violence have multiplied. In some cases, young people gather through social networks to physically clash rather than to meet.


It is evident that what is being lost is the ability to channel one's energies into something positive and this produces episodes of collective destruction. In moments of great difficulty, people need support that is not only medical or economic.We believe that what is lacking is the spirit and the support that grassroots sport can offer as a positive catalyst of strength, relationship, and values. Men and women of all ages need to heal their mental and physical motor skills. They need to meet and maybe even clash with each other. They need to vent the frustration, fear and anger that pandemic has brought in their lives. But they need to do it according to clear, specific, measured borders: such as rules and values.


The same rules and values that local sport clubs have always being able to transmit to everyone, building those bridges and structures necessary to create a cohesive, active and inclusive society. The risk we are running now is that entires generation of our young people lose their chance to be included in grassroots sports path or, worse, drop out from their sports activities and programs forever. The lack of recognition of the centrality of sport in community development is today the biggest risk we are running, and dramatically we realized it only in this moment of pandemic.

With all this considered, we believe it necessary, and no longer postponable, to consider sport a fundamental right, and we call-on all political decision-makers to work for the recognition of sport as a human right and for the implementation of policies and tools that give to sports clubs the ability to guarantee the access to sport for everyone. Even, and above all, in periods of such dramatic crisis.

As a sports organization, working closely with the territories, we know strategies, practices, and possible procedures to transform grassroots sport into the engine for stronger, healthier and more resilient communities.


This is the way to ensure that human rights are promoted in and through sport. For this reason, in order to further promote the European Sport Charter and Human rights in sport, we recommend to governments and institutions that sports organizations can be part of a structured dialogue process to work for the recognition of sport as a human right and at the same time put human rights at the center of sport to build healthy and resilient communities.


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