onsdag 28 januari 2009

IOC and EU sports leaders meet to begin new era of accord

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Olympic leaders met with European Union officials Monday to develop closer relations between the sports and political worlds.
Sports federations want control to run their own affairs protected from the EU's free market competition laws, while also seeking help from the political bloc's 27-member countries to fight doping, corruption and illegal betting. The meeting, which lasted nearly two hours at the International Olympic Committee headquarters - was led by IOC president Jacques Rogge and EU sports commissioner Jan Figel.
"We had a very good dialogue," Rogge told The Associated Press. "I have great gratitude for the commissioner for the way he is opening up the door to our advice and our proposals." Figel said the agenda of sport was more central to political debate in Europe than ever before. "What we need is a theme-by-theme approach to specific topics like the fight against doping, free movement of persons in the area of sport, and financing of sport, especially at the grass roots," he said. Rogge said while sports federations must be left to make their own rules and regulate the field of play, lawmakers' support was needed in other areas."Cracking down on drug networks, doping networks, can only be done with governments where the commission in Brussels can have a co-ordinating role," he said. "It is clear that illegal betting cannot be fought alone by the sports movement."We need the support of the member states. We also need the support of the commission to create this exchange of information and harmony."The IOC will build on this new accord by opening an office in Brussels next month to lobby the EU Commission at its headquarters.
"It speaks by itself about the growing intensity of dialogue between us," Figel said.
The two sides have searched for common ground since the EU published a July 2007 paper outlining ideas on how pro sports could operate within anti-monopoly and labour laws. The EU's Lisbon Treaty of Oct. 2007 then supported legal exemptions for sport by recognizing its "specific nature" - namely, its financial structure distributing money from rich clubs down to poorer ones and its social role in educating young people. Monday's meeting was called after a summit of sports leaders and EU sport ministers in Biarritz, France, last November led to European heads of state requesting a stronger dialogue with the IOC. Among those attending in Lausanne were IOC executive board members Denis Oswald and Rene Fasel and FIFA president Sepp Blatter, an IOC member in his role as head of football's world governing body.

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