European countries must work more closely together to stamp out sexism in sport, according to Ireland’s Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers speaking to a virtual Council of Europe roundtable meeting.

European sports ministers met to discuss the themes of human rights in sport and developing a united approach to sports policies, which is being achieved through a revision of the European Sports Charter.

“Ireland’s National Sports Policy recognises the capacity of sport to achieve social inclusion,” said Chambers.

“We are working to increase participation among under-represented groups, such as women, lower socio-economic groups, LGBTI+ communities and ethnic minorities.”

“Racism, homophobia and sexism can have no place in sport. Sport should be a welcoming and accessible environment for all. Unfortunately, that is not always the case and even though transgressions may be relatively rare, we must never accept any behaviour which runs counter to the core values of sport, notably respect, dignity and equality.”

He added that the key to developing inclusive sporting environments is for governments to work hand in hand with non-governmental organisations, community groups and sporting organisations that drive engagement with sport at grassroots levels. He said the importance of government agencies further developing partnerships with local organisations was more important now than ever before.

“Throughout the COVID pandemic, the local dimension has been critical in sustaining and motivating communities. We have remained in close communication with our national governing bodies of sport, as well as other bodies from the sporting sector.”

“Our collaboration with the sports sector has intensified during this crisis. This collaboration has facilitated the development and implementation of guidance and COVID-safe protocols to facilitate sports training and competitive events in compliance with the public health requirements. The collaboration has also been dynamic and responsive to the evolving pandemic.”

It has been an impressive start in Government for Chambers and the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin.

With them likely to be in power for a number of years to come, and for the majority of the period of the current National Sports Policy, we need to harness the enthusiasm and go to the Department with smart ideas to enhance that sense of collaboration.

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