The Commission's White Paper on Sport adopted in July 2007 sees a role for sports in the EU's external relations. The Commission is set to promote the use of sport as a tool in its development policy and to share its values with other parts of the world. "Through concrete actions, sport has a considerable potential as a tool to promote education, health, inter-cultural dialogue, development and peace," states the paper.
In particular, the Commission is set to promote sport and physical education as a means to make schools more attractive and improve attendance and to improve girls' and women's access to physical education and sport, with the aim of promoting women's access to education in general. Other actions targeted through sport are said to include support for health promotion and awareness-raising campaigns, in synergy with existing programmes of the United Nations, member states and local authorities.
Commission - FIFA Memorandum of Understanding
In July 2006, the Commission and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to make football a force for development in Africa, in the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.
According to the Commission, around 50 million people across Africa play football regularly and for many of these people football is "an act of survival, a means to restore normality in traumatised communities, to rebuild confidence, and to promote tolerance and solidarity in countries torn apart by natural disasters, war or poverty".
The aim of the memorandum is to link football with development programmes and to use the power of football to realise projects in the ACP regions. The memorandum covers a number of areas ranging from development co-operation and humanitarian aid to racism, post-conflict reconstruction, nation-building, health and education. The EU financial contribution will be made from the current 9th European Development Fund (EDF) and later on from the 10th EDF.
Sport for Development and Peace International Working Group
The Sport for Development and Peace International Working Group (SDP IWG) was created in 2004 to engage and work with national governments on policy recommendations to support the integration of sport and physical activity into their national and international development strategies and programs. The group presented its first results in June 2006.
United Nations - Sport for Development and Peace
A number of the United Nations' agencies have programmes relating to sport for development and peace. They promote sports' contribution to economic and social development, to the Millennium Development Goals and to improving health and personal growth in people of all ages, particularly those of young people. The aim is also to boost sport-related activities, which can generate employment and economic activity at many levels and to help build a culture of peace and tolerance.
Toolkit Sport for Development
Toolkit Sport for Development is an international initiative, launched in 2005, involving a variety of stakeholders who work together to share knowledge on sport for development. It offers ready-to-use tools and resources for NGOs, sports clubs and governments who want to use sport to achieve development goals.
International Year of Sport and Physical Education 2005
The International Year of Sport and Physical Education (IYSPE 2005) provided, according to the UN, "a unique opportunity to focus the world’s attention on the importance of sport in society and on how sport and physical-education programmes can be used as tools to help combat challenges such as extreme poverty, conflict and HIV/AIDS". The aim of IYSPE 2005 was to promote around the world, through a series of conferences, events and research publications, the value of sport and physical education for education, health, development and peace.
Illegal trade of young African footballers
Initiatives for 'Sports for development' naturally have good intentions. However, recently, the African continent has seen an increasing number of unscrupulous football agents in search of promising talents to be bought and resold to European clubs. Many African players regard playing in Europe as a way to escape poverty and easily leave their local clubs in search of glory in European teams. They are often 'bought' at early age by agents, for as little as 30 euro, to be trained and eventually sold later on for millions, or the families are asked to pay for a plane ticket for them to come to Europe.
Once in Europe, these youngsters, who have signed off their rights, and whose papers are often confiscated by their agents, often find themselves playing in an insignificant team, with a poor pay, or then simply abandoned, if they have not shown good enough talent for playing.
Since 2001, a FIFA regulation forbids the transfer of underaged players from third countries to the EU but the rules are not always respected everywhere.
The EU White Paper on Sport states that the EU will include, wherever appropriate, sport-related issues such as international players' transfers and exploitation of underaged players in its policy dialogue and co-operation with partner countries.
Culture Foot Solidaire is a French NGO aiming to bring together different actors in African football to fight against the traffic of young African talents in France. This is done by informing directly, at local level, the young, their families and local football coaches about professional football and the realities of expatriation. The first information centre, 'Maison du Jeune Footballeur', was recently opened in Cameroon to pass on the information and to support local sports structures.
A Belgian human-rights association called Sport and Freedom (Sport en Vrijheid) was founded in 1992 to protect young sports people from being exploited. The association has conducted a legal battle on behalf of exploited footballers to make their case heard and to help them stay legally in Belgium.