05/07/2011 Jean-Luc Bennahmias : "The EU has to realise that sport is a serious subject"
While the EU now has competence and vision in the area of sport, the lack of financial resources is problematic. MEP Jean-Luc Bennahmias sounds the alarm.L’eurodéputé Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ADLE) tire la sonnette d’alarme. In partnership with the think tank Sport and Citizneship, Touteleurope.eu publishes an interview from their quarterly journal.
What is your opinion of the Communication on Sport adopted by the European Commission on January 18th last?
Jean-Luc Bennahmias : When you examine this document, it is clear that the Commission has many plans for different areas (doping, violence, sports agents, naturalisation, financing popular sport, education and training through sport, sport and health, etc.). In short, it wanted to deal with all of these issues and it has made good moves in this direction although the road ahead is long. As someone who advocates for an EU that is strong in all these areas, I feel that it’s a good communication.
Does the lack of a budget for sport not risk jeopardising the good intentions that are there?
J-L B : That is currently the problem. As national budgets are in a delicate state at the moment, the EU seems paralysed at the idea of creating new resources. We have to start the debate sooner or later and get beyond this anxiety.
There are two possibilities: without any real ‘sport’ budget for 2014-2020, not much can be done other than preparatory actions and calls for studies. This has been the situation since 2009 and the system will soon run out of steam.
This think tank founded in 2007 focusses on the role of sport in European societies. It publishes a quarterly review on issues related to sport and citizenship.
With a real ‘sport’ budget, the EU will have a minimum of financial support to implement its sports policies. Nevertheless, it must ensure proper coordination with the Council of Europe to avoid stepping on its toes (for example with regard to doping or violence as the Council of Europe already has Conventions on these topics that are legally binding!). It could thus finance project that help create a sense of belonging to Europe, put in place actions to regulate the migration of young sportsmen and women, and improve health in sport etc.
The advantage is that sport can overlap with other areas such as education, health or youth policies. Sport is a serious subject and the EU needs to understand that. There is a lot of talk about financial fair play, the migration of underage sportsmen and women, corruption and I think that sport can serve as a model at this level.
You mentioned financial fair play. Do you think that this system is necessary to further regulate European football? ?
J-L B : There has been too much hubris and too much excess. Like all bubbles, this one will burst in the end. Professional sport has its head in the clouds and its feet on shaky ground. People need to understand that behind the flash lifestyle and fancy cars, petrodollars and dirty money are being laundered while huge numbers of people live in extremely poor conditions in the countries that this money is coming from. Are we going to remain indifferent to that? It is vital that rules are put in place. The first thing that needs to be done is monitoring where the money comes from. Then, the clubs themselves should set a salary scale. So, the role of think-tanks is to suggest a roadmap to stakeholders in order to show everyone the contradictory ideas they are guilty of and the responsibilities they need to accept.
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