KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Thomas Bach took a scarcely-veiled swipe at the breakaway Super League in addressing the annual congress of European federation UEFA in Montreux.
The president of the International Olympic Committee also identified the rescheduled European Championship finals in June and July as an important pathfinder towards ‘his’ Olympic Games which start in Tokyo weeks later.
Bach praised UEFA for organising “thousands of football games in countries across Europe” amid the Covid-19 crisis and added: “We will be closely watching UEFA Euro 2020 and incorporate your experience in the overall Covid counter measures that will be in place in Tokyo.
“The many world championships which have been held are proof that sport can be organised safely under present restrictions while safeguarding the health of everyone and all this without access to vaccination from which we both can greatly benefit at UEFA Euro 2020 and even more later at the Olympic Games.
“This is why a safe Euro 2020 will also greatly contribute to create confidence in the Olympic Games.
“It will be the light at the end of the tunnel that we are still in and also football will play a special role.
Light in the tunnel
Bach then turned to the issue of sporting solidarity albeit without specifically naming the Super League creation which has convulsed the world of football.
He said: “We are always stronger together. We need more solidarity. We need more solidarity within societies and among societies. This lesson applies to everybody so it also applies to sport and sports organisations.
“The coronavirus crisis has already changed our world in profound ways. Nobody should even dream of going back to the way things were before. Even once we have overcome the health crisis we will face far-reaching political, social and financial consequences.
“In so many ways the crisis has revealed existing fault lines and inequities.
Narrow self-interest and egotism have been gaining ground over solidarity, shared values and common rules. We can only address the challenge of the corornavirus world in solidarity.
Unique sports model
“The European sports model is a unique approach that can shape the post-coronavirus world. It is built on solidarity and volunteers, on the twin principals of financial solidarity which allows revenues generated at the elite level to be reinvested at the lower level. It is grounded on fair competition which gives priority to sporting merit.
“Unfortunately this model is under threat, the very existence of the vales of solidarity and the volunteer-based model is under threat, challenged by a purely profit-driven approach that ignores the social mission of sport and needs of the post-coronavirus world.”