Address by EFPM President Philippe Housiaux

Mr President, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning and welcome. Please allow me to start with some expressions of my gratitude. I am immensely grateful for the presence of so many of you here today. You represent what is most precious in the European community of sports – the European Olympic committee, national Olympic committees, Fair Play committees, among many others.

I want to thank their Majesties the King and Queen of Belgium, under the patronage of whom our General Assembly shall take place today.

My recognition and gratitude also go to the First Deputy President of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation’s Parliament, Mr François Bellot, for hosting us in this assembly, a significant symbol of democracy in the European capital.

Last but not least, an event like this doesn’t come together overnight. That is why I also want to express my deepest gratitude to all those who helped coordinating this extraordinary event.

Thank you all.


The European Fair Play Movement is now in its 28th year of existence. Soon it will turn 30. Since it was established back in 1994, it spared no effort to promote fair play values everywhere on the wider European continent. Yet, as soon as I was honoured to take office as the movement’s new president, I couldn’t fail to believe that transferring the EFPM’s headquarters to the very heart of Europe, here in Brussels, would open up a wide range of opportunities and impulse a renewed commitment from its numerous members.

Sport practitioners stand out as the largest structured and organized community in the world. The practise of sport is therefore a formidable tool to support and promote ethical values across our contemporary societies, through and through. Fair play, Olympic values beat on against the dark currents of racism and xenophobia, social exclusion, hate-speeches, nationalisms and warmongers.



Mr President, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

The European Fair Play movement has a huge responsibility in defying these wrong trends and turns of our times and in seeing it everywhere replaced with a spirit of tolerance and mutual respect for a better living together. It is therefore of utmost importance, for all our members and beyond, for all our governments and institutions, to take up the opportunity of our outstanding gathering to renew and deepen our commitment towards the values of fair play and the European Fair Play Movement.

Sport is unique in its kind. On the one it is extremely vivid, diverse and prolific: it constantly evolves, changes, takes new and unpredictable shapes and forms, involves and associates new groups of people. The Olympic Games today bear little resemblance with what they were back in 1968, when I took part as an athlete, and I’m sure they bear little resemblance with what they will be in fifty years’ time. On the other hand, over decades, centuries and even millennia, sports have rested on shared and accepted codes and rules. These common grounds are of course a necessary condition of sports practice, but they are not by themselves sufficient. To achieve higher societal goals, sports will always have a dire and compelling need of a supplement of soul, I name: “fair play, the spirit of sport.”

Today, we have the chance to meet at the very heart of the European Union, in Brussels. I sincerely wish this gathering to be the first milestone in a long series of other European milestones. This autumn we will have the privilege to meet again in Rome, in the very room where the Rome Treaty was signed. Another milestone will be Strasbourg, to better connect our work with the Council of Europe. After all, what binds us are European values, be they embodied by the deeper EU project or by the wider Council of Europe.

To conclude, let’s not miss the opportunity that is given to us today to reinvigorate the European Fair Play Movement and allow it to live up to its responsibilities!

Thank you!

I now officially declare open the Joyous Entry of the European Fair Play Movement in Brussels!