Council of Europe. Recommendation No. R (99) 9 on the role of sport in furthering social cohesion







(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 22 April 1999,
at the 669th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)


The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 15.b of the Statute of the Council of Europe,

Following up the Final Declaration of the second summit of the Council of Europe, 10 and 11 October 1997, where the heads of state and government stated that "social cohesion is one of the foremost needs of the wider Europe and should be pursued as an essential complement to the promotion of human rights and dignity", and recognised "the role of sport in promoting social integration, particularly among young people";

Acting in response to the Action Plan resulting from the summit, where the heads of state and government instructed the Committee of Ministers to "define a social strategy to respond to the challenges of society" and "to establish a programme for the promotion of the interests of children in partnership with the international and non-governmental organisations concerned";

Acknowledging that while sport is not the answer to all societal ills it can play a distinctive part in fighting marginalisation and can act as a valid tool in working for social cohesion across the whole spectrum of society, not only among young people;

Having regard to the discussions of the 15th Informal Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Sport held in Cyprus on May 14 and 15, 1998 where a central theme for debate was the role of sport in achieving social cohesion;

Conscious of earlier texts in the same area, such as:

- the European Sports Charter, No. R (92) 13, which underlines the right of everyone to participate in sport and insists that sport be kept free of any kind of discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, sex, political or social status;

- Recommendation No. R (95) 17 on the significance of sport for society, which relates to the place of sport in social development;

- those adopted by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, including Recommendation (96) 16 on sport and local authorities and the chapter in the European Urban Charter, 1993, which states that "sport provides the means of interaction for individuals and communities, bringing them closer together. It can help, particularly with young people, in giving them a sense of direction and avoid social alienation. It can help in the fight against drug abuse and exclusion";

Aware that participation in institutional and community life in Europe today is undergoing a genuine crisis, especially with regard to the democratic participation of certain groups of citizens in civil and leisure activities;

Directing the attention of governments to the unique role which sport can play in this context, as an activity that already involves a significant percentage of the population, either as participants or spectators;

Bearing in mind the practical programmes and concrete results set out in the Clearing House publication on Social cohesion and sport which gives examples of the best current practice,

Recommends that the governments of member States:

1. while adopting global and integrated sports policies at national level to facilitate the participation of all people in sport, particularly target groups of disadvantaged or excluded people and:

a. with regard to the disabled:

- adapt sporting facilities and facilitate access and transport to these facilities and recreation areas as set out in Recommendation No. R (86) 18 on the European Charter for Sport for All: disabled persons;

- set up projects designed for the disabled to stimulate self-confidence in their own physical abilities, together with programmes which make them aware of the potential physical, psychological and social benefits of sport;

- encourage mainstream sporting bodies to make provision for, and contact with, disabled sporting bodies and to take measures towards eliminating the distinction between disabled and mainstream sport in order to provide acceptance and integration for the disabled in the world of sport;

b. with regard to the unemployed:

- use sports programmes at low cost to provide regular activities for this group. Such programmes should include contact with a wide sector of the population, encourage feelings of achievement and self-worth and envisage using the unemployed in positions of responsibility;

- develop job creation programmes and projects in the field of sport;

c. with regard to migrants, ethnic groups and refugees:

- promote sport both as an aid to integrating people in the society in which they currently live and to break down the barriers between different groups;

- increase the number of, and publicise knowledge about, sports facilities and activities in areas where these groups live;

- provide specific programmes for groups which might suffer from a double disadvantage, for example, being a woman or girl and a migrant;

- use sport as a means to tackle the possible isolation of women and girls in these groups and link it with educational programmes in other areas, such as nutrition and fitness sports;

- ensure that no sports club practises discrimination;

- develop projects where the various groups - such as national minorities - are encouraged to bring fresh impetus or enthusiasm to certain sports and introduce new sports and traditional games into the society where they live;

d. with regard to children:

- use sports programmes to help children appreciate the sensation of being both an individual and a valued member of a functioning effective group, which is part of education for democratic citizenship;

- ensure that physical education remains compulsory in schools and that sufficient time is given to it to allow teachers to take into account the social dimension of sport;

- take measures to guarantee that physical education classes are carried out by qualified teachers aiming to provide high quality experiences;

- support out-of-school sports programmes to extend the scope and range of physical education in schools and to make good any possible deficiencies;

e. with regard to young people:

- develop policies and programmes to encourage the personal development and involvement in society of young people through sport;

- ensure measures to co-ordinate in-school and out-of-school physical education, sport and recreational activities to give follow-on programmes for young people before they leave school, so that they remain involved in life-long sport;

f. with regard to women:

- take measures to encourage women to make time in their lives for sporting activities and fight prejudices about sport being seen as a male domain;

- ensure that opportunities for everyday recreational sport are available for all women;

- make better provision at sports facilities for mothers, such as crèches for small children;

- make specific provision for those who have special needs which might arise because of their social background, lack of access to facilities, or the fact that they are not in paid employment;

g. with regard to senior citizens:

- ensure that older people can enjoy the benefits of suitable sports activities, which can help prevent social isolation and preserve functional (physical and mental) capacities, as set out in Recommendation No. R (88) 8;

- take measures to draw on the wealth of experience that this group can offer as volunteers in the sports movement;

2. associate local and regional authorities and non-governmental sports associations with the development and implementation of these policies.

Further information on these groups and examples of means for achieving these objectives are set out in the explanatory memorandum to this recommendation.



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