Sport governance in France: strengths and challenges

France is based on a sports organization model developed in the early 1960s to improve their ranking in the international sports hierarchy. Structuring policies to support competitive/high-level sports and the supervision of federations have been implemented through the construction and renovation of sports equipment, as well as the training of managers and coaches. through state diplomas for sports supervision are also required.

The sports management coordinating duo is represented by the Ministry of Sports and national sports federations, especially in high-level sports. The French model also embodies the “European model of sport”: high-level sport, professional sport and sport for all are controlled by federations, guided by a unified and unified approach supported by national and European regulation.

Ministry of Sports Financein cooperation with each federation established by objective agreements since 1984. 1,600 posts of technical sports advisers (civil servants seconded to 79 national federations). This staff contribution is in addition to the direct subsidies historically given to elite sport and its 16,000 high-level athletes (40% of whom are women). In team sports, France also relies on the growing importance of several professional team sports (football, rugby, basketball, volleyball, handball) – a turnover of 3 billion euros in 2019. – football, ice hockey, supervised sports federations, professional clubs and their successful training centers at the international level.

Since 1995 Bosman decision (free movement of professional athletes in the European Union), France has managed to export the best players to the biggest clubs in Europe thanks to its efficient training system. Thus, since the late 1990s, France has been among the world’s top countries in both men’s and women’s major team sports (soccer, rugby union, basketball, handball and volleyball). On the other hand, in individual sports, France, according to its state model, is linked to a public institution dedicated to the training of the best athletes (National Institute of Sports, Competence and Results – Insep) and high-profile events, won most of their international medals in historically non-professional Olympic sports: kayaking, fencing, swimming, track cycling and judo.

in 2016 At the Rio de Janeiro Games, France won 42 medals (7th among countries). in 2021 At the Tokyo Games, she scored only 33, including 10 gold (8th place among countries). If France traditionally stands out with medals in alpine skiing and figure skating at the Winter Games, then biathlon, snowboard and freestyle skiing, which since 2010 it ranks 8th (12th in Beijing 2022). in 2024 in the Olympics, the main goal is to finish 5th.

In the Olympic Games, the competition became very intense (very significant investment growth in most major countries and emerging economies). China would have invested 500 billion dollars to prepare and host the 2008 Games. Beijing Olympics (she finished first against traditional winners America and 3rd in the 2022 Winter Olympics, both of which were held at home). Since 2000 Great Britain has increased its support for elite sport sixfold (2.5 times more than France’s investment). through a highly targeted specialization strategy in medal production disciplines. That is why since 2008 she is constantly on the podium of the country at the Summer Olympics.

Despite the ferocity of these international competitions, France, based on a generalist strategy, still shines, including the very popular non-Olympic disciplines: rugby union, car and motorcycle sports or even karate and pétanque. However this model, highly state-controlled and more interventionist than in other EU countries, explains why many of the 36 national Olympic federations remain in a culture of dependency on state aid. In addition, the growing needs of leisure sports, healthy sports and social cohesion constantly call into question the ability of the French federal model, strongly supported by public action, to respond to them.

Hubert Gildon

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