On Thursday March 23rd, the 7th meeting of the European Commission Expert Group on strengthening the recovery and the crisis resilience of the sport sector during and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic took place in hybrid format in Brussels.
The first session of the meeting was centred around the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on volunteering and grassroots sport. Stefan Bergh, President of the European Non-Governmental Sports Organisations, presented the work his organisation had done during the pandemic and stressed the different experiences both of restrictions and support measures between and within countries.
Mr Bergh stressed the importance of adequate funding being made available to support recovery and the need to recognise the value of volunteers in sport. This point was reiterated by Geoff Carroll from the European Observatoire on Sport and Employment, who presented some of the findings of their V4V project.
Michael Mathys and Luke Skipper from the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), expanded on the FIA’s purpose-driven strategy during the second session, which focussed on the wider context of COVID-19 impact. Mr Skipper stressed the need for having wider capacity to deal with crisis in the generic sense and highlighted some of the changes that the pandemic has brought, such as a significant increase in followers from 16- to 24-year-olds.
The meeting was concluded by Floor Van Houdt, head of the European Commission’s Sport Unit, who emphasised the desire for more data and evidence gathering in order to identify the lessons learnt from the pandemic and recommendations to be better prepared and more resilient when future crises strike.