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IMMAF CEO comments on Council of Europe’s new recommendations on Martial Arts & Combat Sports

IMMAF CEO comments on Council of Europe’s new recommendations on Martial Arts & Combat Sports

Press Release

6th April 2021

International Mixed Martial Arts Federation CEO Densign White MBE, OLY has commended the Council of Europe’s new Recommendation to member States on “extreme martial art and combat activities”, which include MMA.

In its latest recommendation, the Council of Europe positively acknowledges the physical, mental and social benefits to participants that martial arts and combat activities can foster when practised within an “appropriate framework.” It recommends that the practise of these disciplines should be “in keeping with the requirements of existing norms with regard to the values of sport.”

The Council cites the main stake-holders responsible for safety frameworks for participants as including “governments’, (recognised) sports organisations, ad hoc bodies for the regulation of Extreme Martial Arts and Combat Activities, such as national platforms, authorities, working groups, as well as commercial organisations” and calls on their cooperation.

The recommendation replaces the earlier Recommendation R(99)11 of 1999 on the “prohibition of free fighting contests such as cage fighting.”

IMMAF representatives, CEO Densign White and Communications Director Isobel Carnwath had testified at a working group hearing for the Council of Europe review of the recommendation on 26 April 2017 in Paris.

Densign White commented:

“We are pleased with the outcome of this enquiry and concur with the recommendation that governments should further cooperation between relevant sport organisations and public authorities to improve participants’ safety in MMA, and that the international sports movement also bears responsibility. We welcome the observation that participants in a physical activity, regardless of its sport recognition status, should have the right to practise in safe and well governed conditions. 

“IMMAF has campaigned for a long time for the formal recognition of MMA from the international sports movement, which would grant 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 policies for the education of officials and coaches, Youth development programmes, talent development pathways, anti-doping, medical and concussion policies and community programmes, which have been adopted by National Federations in 114 countries globally, 48 of which are National Olympic Committee or Sports Authority recognised. We are proud of having contributed to the enquiry that led to this report and will be pleased to cooperate in furthering the implementation of these recommendations in Europe.”

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