Council of Europe decides media freedom must be put in place by sports

25 January 2018

The NMC welcomes the adoption of a text calling for freedom of the media as part of a debate on sports governance by The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s (PACE) Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media.

This is an important building block for our campaign, and is encouraging news going forward. It is hoped that the Council of Europe’s  (CoE) resolutions will now be taken into account by the organising bodies and governments of the 47 CoE member states.

CoE Rapporteurs Mogens Jensen and Anne Brasseur had brought forward two reports on sports, “The legitimacy crisis in international sports governance“ and “Good football governance” and the final resolutions were adopted by PACE as expected.

Brasseur’s report presented a number of proposals on how to improve football governance at club level and on a wider scale at FIFA, UEFA and the member associations.

Of particular interest to us is resolution 11.2.2, which calls on FIFA and UEFA ‘insist with the governments of the host countries on the necessity of protecting the fundamental civil and political rights, and in particular the freedom of expression – including the freedom of the media – and the freedom of peaceful meetings, and not only in connection with their competitions but beyond’.

It also recommends that they ‘introduce effective checks on compliance with the obligations entered into by countries that apply to host major football competitions and by their national associations’ (11.2.1).

The CoE has been at the forefront of sports for almost 30 years, as in 1989 it was the first transnational institution to take a stance on doping and it took a lead-role in forming a legally binding instrument on match-fixing.

This decision follows the similar Kazan Action Plan declaration by UNESCO sports ministers in July 2017, which is not so surprising given the overlap between the Council of Europe and Intergovernmental Committee for Physical Education and Sport (CIGEPS/UNESCO).

The lack of detail about ‘media freedom’ means we can interpret it our way and build on it in other lobbying spheres.

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