EU Sport Forum 2024 held in Liege

EU Sport Forum 2024 held in Liege

The traditional EU Sport Forum, key annual event supporting dialogue within the European sport community, was held in Liege, Belgium on April 16 and 17, 2024.

The event was organised by the European Commission, in cooperation with the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, with key sport and sport-related organisations, institutions and decision-makers in attendance. European University Sports Association (EUSA) and its Institute were represented at the event as well.

Opening by Commissioner Iliana Ivanova

Official opening with welcome addresses and speeches were given by Iliana Ivanova, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth; Pierre-Yves Jeholet, Alternate Minister-President of the Government of the Federation Wallonia-Brussels; and Tomasz Frankowski, Member of the European Parliament and Co-Chair Sport Group in the European Parliament.

Following the welcomes, the keynote speeches were made by Jean-Michel Saive, Olympian and President of the Belgian Olympic Committee; and Samuel Ducroquet, Ambassador for Sport, French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs.

High level panel on EU sport values at major sport events in 2024

The first high-level panel focused on Paris2024 Olympics and UEFA EURO 2024 as vehicles for EU values. Moderated by Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, Director-General, DG EAC of the European Commission, the panellists discussed various topics related to these mega sports events hosted in Europe this summer. Panellists were Marie Barsacq, Executive Director for Impact and Legacy of the Paris 2024 Organising Committee; Jose Manuel Saraiva de Lemos Araujo, Executive Committee Member and Chair of the EU and International Relations Commission of the European Olympic Committees and Secretary General of Portuguese Olympic Committee; Raymon Blondel, President of the European Paralympic Committee; Therese Alshammar, Former Olympic Swimmer and EU Olympics Ambassador; and Celia Sasic, Ambassador and Member of the Organising Committee of the UEFA Euro 2024.

#BeInclusive award recipients and finallists

The EU Sport Forum was also used as an occasion to present the #BeInclusive EU Sport Awards. All finalists were recognised in 3 key categories. The awards were received by: Urban Youth Games by Olympic Urban Festival, Belgium in category Breaking Barriers, DIF get2sport by Danish Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation, Denmark in category BeEqual and Together4Ukraine by Champions Factory, Bulgaria in category Sport for Peace.

Session with Olympians and Paralympians

After networking lunch, the first day continued with a Question and Answers session with Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Speakers were Mindaugas Bilius, Paralympian (Track and Field) and President of the Lithuanian Paralympic Committee; Jason Smyth, Paralympian (Athletics) and EU Olympics Ambassador; Mirna Jukic-Berger, Olympian (Swimming) and EU Olympics Ambassador; and Thomas Briels, Olympian (Field Hockey), EU Olympics Ambassador.

Sport Ambassadors

In the afternoon, several parallel sessions were held; starting with Fair Play - Integrity and values of athletes; Women in sport; Green and sustainable sport; Youth and health in the digital age; Athletes’ rights. The first day concluded with a cocktail reception and dinner at the historic Val Saint-Lambert Castle, former abbey palace and one of the largest glass and crystal works.

From the Women in Sport parallel session

The second day started with a high-level panel: Dialogue on new perspectives for the European football ecosystem. Introductory remarks were done by Nadine Kessler, Managing Director of Women’s Football at UEFA, followed by the discussion and contribution by the panellists. Moderated by Georg Hausler, Director for Sport, Culture and Creativity, DG EAC at European Commission. Panellists: Giorgio Marchetti, Deputy Secretary General at UEFA; Charlie Marshall, CEO of the European Clubs Association; Dennis Gudasic, Co-founder of the Union of European Clubs; Alberto Colombo, Deputy Secretary General of the European Leagues; Maheta Molango, Board Member at FIFPRO and CEO of PFA; and Stuart Dykes, Director EU and Institutional Affairs at Football Supporters Europe.

Panel on the future of football

Parallel sessions on the second day were focused on Lifelong sport; and Harvesting ideas for the future of EU sport policy, followed by remarks by Michel Cymes, Health Ambassador of Paris 2024 and EU Olympic Ambassador.

Concluding session on EU Sport Policies

The last full session was focused on Commission presentation on priorities and developments in EU sport policy and Erasmus+; presented by Floor van Houdt, Head of Sport Unit, DG EAC of the European Commission and Luciano di Fonzo, Acting Head of Unit for Erasmus Mundus and Sport, Education and Culture Executive Agency.

EUSA representative Andrej Pisl with Commissioner Iliana Ivanova

EUSA was represented at the event by Andrej Pisl, Projects and Policy Manager. The event was also an occasion to meet key stakeholders and partners, including the European Commission, European Non-Governmental Sports Organisation (ENGSO), European Paralympic Committee (EPC), European Fair Play Movement (EFPM), European Volleyball Confederation (CEV), as well as project and initiative partners.

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