Top EU official stresses importance of news media access to sport events

24 May 2017

One of the EU Commission’s top officials has backed the importance of news media gaining access to sports events, echoing concerns highlighted by the NMC in discussions with governments, public policy makers and sport organisations themselves.

Tibor Navracsics, EU commissioner for education, culture, youth and sport, said: “We must ensure that media are given access to all sport events to allow them to fulfil their role of critical observers”, adding that “this requires a strong commitment to openness, particularly by sport organisations.”

Navracsics made the remarks during a public meeting with diplomats in the European Council following another session in which they approved the EU’s new Sport Action Plan that will run to 2020.

The commissioner said that investigative journalism, as well as new technologies and social media, was helping to scrutinise sport “as never before”. He argued that though this had resulted in “some unpleasant discoveries”, this was “fundamental to keep sport clean”.

Navracsics has spoken previously about the importance of independent news media in ensuring the integrity and credibility sport, for example emphasising the role of journalists in discussions with the Parliament on its report on sports policy.

The commissioner also suggested that news media can also be a key partner for sporting organisations in promoting positive messages and values, for example showing how sporting activities can foster social inclusion.

Commissioner Navracsics remarks, to the European Youth, Culture and Sport Council, on the topic in fullThank you and let me also thank all the participants of this debate for their very useful and truthful comments and remarks, the best practices and experiences we just learned from the member states’ experiences. Because I think one of the biggest challenges for our society is social inclusion and sport is indeed a powerful communication channel and we must use it in order to advance public interest in promoting social inclusion.

A good illustration of this is the positives campaigns of sport organisations at European level that call attention to diversity and equality. UEFA’s Respect campaign on anti-racism or the Together We Play Strong campaign on women’s role that will be launched in collaboration with the Commission on the 1st of June are the excellent examples of harnessing the power of sport through media for building a better society.

Last February the European Parliament adopted a report on sports policy which assesses the importance of independent news media in safeguarding the integrity of sport and its credibility. On that occasion I have emphasised the key role of news media before the European Parliament and I am here to advocate for it again today.

News media and independent reporting are essential in sport. Technology, social media and investigative journalism are today scrutinising sport as never before. This has resulted in some unpleasant discoveries about sport practices, which are, however, fundamental to keep sport clean.

We must ensure that media are given access to all sport events to allow them to fulfil their role of critical observers. This requires a strong commitment to openness, particularly by sport organisations.

News media should also be seen as a key partner in promoting positive messages and values in and through sport. News media show how vital a role sport can play in fostering social inclusion and promoting values such as solidarity, respect and understanding between nations and cultures.

That’s why we work very closely together with sports media during the European Week of Sport for the third time this year.

In short, news media have to ensure that sport continues to inspire all of us. Therefore, I’m pleased to see that sport and media is one of the priorities for the new EU Work Plan for Sport, which has been adopted moments ago. The inclusion of this topic will give us the opportunity to strengthen our cooperation on this issue in the next years.

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