While the MMA community shifts its attention to UFC 180 taking place in Mexico City this weekend, top sports regulators from the Council of Europe member states met in Paris to discuss the future of MMA in Europe on November 12, at a round table discussion on the future of combat sports in the continent.
UNITE HERE’s European representative Blake Harwell said "We have been encouraging the Council to hold such a dialogue as a response to the growth of professional MMA events in Europe in the absence of government regulation. We were glad to contribute our research to what we consider a necessary first step toward regulating MMA in Europe, especially if children are to participate in it.” (See UNITE HERE document for the COE meeting.)
While the meeting took place in Paris, MMA events remain prohibited in France. Most recently, on 2 July 2013, the French sports minister reconfirmed that “Free Fight, or Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), takes place inside a cage and allows strikes against the opponent while on the ground. The policy of the Ministry has not changed and remains clear. The practice of MMA is not allowed and its events/shows are not permitted.”
The Council of Europe has recommended its member states prohibit free fighting since 1999. Sport conventions promoted by the Council deal with match fixing, anti-doping and violence at sporting events. The Council recently launched an initiative called “Pro Safe Sport for Young Athletes,” which aims to promote the physical and mental well-being of young athletes.