Last week, the Council of the EU adopted new conclusions on how to address the COVID-19 pandemic in the recovery stage. FESI strongly welcomes this political support from the Council and now calls on Member States and the European Commission to develop and implement concrete strategies to help the sport sector recovering in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has affected the EU and its Member States in a sudden and dramatic manner, with an unprecedented impact on the health of European citizens and the economy. As outlined by the Council, the sport sector has also been severely affected by the pandemic. And the sporting goods industry, which employs almost 700,000 people in Europe, is not outdone. According to FESI latest data, 45% of the sporting goods companies suffered a decline in turnover ranging between 50% and 90%. As Europe slowly enters into the recovery process, the sport industry must not be overlooked.

With the compulsory closure of stores, sports clubs, gyms and cancellation of major sport events, the sporting industry was one of the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis”, declared Neil Narriman, FESI President. “In spite of these difficulties, our sector has been beneficial before, during and after the lockdown. Before, by contributing to the prevention of the spread of the virus in the early phase of the outbreak, through various initiatives such as promoting physical activity at home, manufacturing personal protective equipment and donations to hospitals. During the lockdown, by maintaining people’s physical and mental health. And after, because it is now undeniable that sport will play a key role in rebuilding a healthier and more resilient society”, he added.

FESI, together with many leading sports organisations, strongly advocated for the Council to adopt ambitious Conclusions to support our sector. Today, we are pleased to see that the Council takes the measure of these difficulties and calls on all actors involved to act“, declared Jérôme Pero, FESI Secretary
General. “However, we want to insist on one very clear point: to be successful, this recovery must be based on an ambitious plan and sport should be included in all policies as a central element of the economic and
health resumption
”, he added.

As highlighted in the Conclusions, further efforts at local, national, regional and EU levels are necessary to protect and support the sport sector and maintain sport’s preventive contribution for our citizens’ health. By building a healthier and more sustainable society, sport has the power to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of people, while helping us to weather any potential next health and economic crisis. To achieve such an objective, FESI calls on the Council, the Commission, and the Parliament to:
• Ensure that sport activities swiftly resume in a safe and secure manner
• Include sport in all policy considerations, funding opportunities and recovery plans
• Further invest in sport infrastructures at all levels