As well as being a great benefit to participants’ physical and mental health, sport and physical activity can be extremely valuable in the context of social inclusion and integration.
Such activities provide opportunities for marginalised and underprivileged groups, such as migrants and people at risk of discrimination, to interact and integrate with other social groups.
Sport also provides those with a disability an opportunity to showcase their talents and challenge commonly-held stereotypes.
The social and societal contribution of sport does not always reach its full potential, given that the membership of sports clubs remains comparatively low amongst women and a variety of marginalised and underprivileged groups.
Many of these groups are also under-represented amongst sporting professionals and volunteers or members of committees and governing bodies, whether at local, national, or European level.
There are a number of EU actions focusing on social inclusion, particularly in relation to people with a disability, or those from minority and migrant groups.
In 2010, the Council Conclusions on the role of sport as a source of and a driver for active social inclusion recognised the potential of sport and physical activity in contributing to social inclusion. This was supported by the publication of the 2011 Communication on Sport.
The value of sport for people with a disability was also recognised in 2010 through the European Disability Strategy (2010-2020), and a report published by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) pointing out that immigrants are often unable to permeate the ranks of popular national sports, even at amateur or recreational levels.
Sport is now included in the monitoring process when implementing the Framework Decision on racism and xenophobia.
The EU strategy for equality between men and women (2010-2015), has a specific focus on access to sport for immigrant women and women from ethnic minorities. As part of the effort to fight gender stereotypes and promote women’s access to decision making roles in sport, the Commission is seeking to ensure that 30% of sport decision-making roles are held by women by 2020.