IMMAF welcomes Council of Europe recommendation on martial arts and combat sports


The Director General of the International Federation of Mixed Martial Arts (IMMAF), Densign White, welcomed a recommendation from the Council of Europe to member states regarding extreme martial arts and combat activities.

The recommendation recognized the “benefits available to practitioners of martial arts and combat activities” provided that these activities are “practiced in an appropriate setting”.

The benefits were cited as being agility, social inclusion, self-confidence, self-control and respect.

The Council of Europe noted that there had been “major developments” in extreme martial arts and combat activities since the early 2000s.

This included the growing interest “in this physical activity”, as well as “the economic importance of these sports in the world, their increasing visibility and the promotion of fighting through traditional media, esport and video games”.

The Council of Europe added that the nature of sport requires that unethical practices and behaviors in sport be firmly and effectively tackled, while taking note of recent research on the diagnosis, treatment and health consequences of women. concussions.

The new recommendation aims to focus on aspects that can significantly contribute to preventing risks to the health of practitioners, such as the prevention of doping and the manipulation of sports competitions, fair competition and the training of coaches and referees. .

As part of the recommendation, the Council of Europe stated that “the main stakeholders called upon to act are governments, (recognized) sports organizations, ad hoc bodies for the regulation of extreme martial arts and sports activities. combat, such as national platforms, authorities, task forces, as well as commercial organizations organizing extreme martial arts and combat activities. “

The latest guidelines replace recommendation R (99) 11 of 1999, which suggested “the prohibition of free fights such as cage fights”.

IMMAF welcomed the recommendation.

White and IMMAF’s communications director, Isobel Carnwath, testified at a hearing of the working group for the Council of Europe’s review of the recommendation in April 2017 in Paris.

White welcomed the last recommendation, stressing the right to practice sport in safe conditions.

“We are satisfied with the result of this survey and agree with the recommendation that governments should strengthen cooperation between relevant sports organizations and public authorities to improve the safety of participants in mixed martial arts, and that the international sports movement is also responsible for it.

“We welcome the observation that participants in physical activity, regardless of its sporting recognition status, should have the right to practice in safe and well-governed conditions.

“IMMAF has long campaigned for official recognition of mixed martial arts by the international sports movement, which would give us stronger authority to govern, as we share the Council’s concern for the health and safety of practitioners. , including children, in an ungoverned landscape.

“IMMAF has well-developed official and coach education policies, youth development programs, talent development pathways, anti-doping, concussion and medical policies, and community programs, which have been adopted by national federations in 114 countries around the world, 48 of which are National Olympic Committees or recognized sports authorities.

“We are proud to have contributed to the investigation which led to this report and will be happy to cooperate to advance the implementation of these recommendations in Europe.”

IMMAF is still fighting for recognition from the World Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF).

IMMAF has been consistently refused recognition by AGFIS, after having made a request several times since 2016.

A public petition was launched last year on behalf of mixed martial arts stakeholders, demanding official recognition of the sport by the Olympic Movement and governments around the world.


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