Esports

Why is the sports sector demonstrating this Wednesday?

The organisers give their reasons

A training activity of the Catalan Football Federation / FCF

The sports sector has called a meeting this Wednesday, November 11, at 1pm in Plaça Sant Jaume in Barcelona to claim that sport is an essential service and is part of the solution to fight against the coronavirus. Federations, clubs, companies, facility managers, university sport and professional associations have called for action. A manifesto will be read to claim that sport has a direct impact on improving health, education and training and social inclusion. The protest organisers are giving four arguments to raise their voices:

1. Sport, free from covid-19

Catalan sports clubs have been working for months to ensure that sport is safe to practice. According to the specific protocols by modality and facilities developed after the lockdown break, sport activities in Catalonia have limits on numbers, control access and trace all participants, keep to fixed groups and maintain conditions of total hygiene and disinfection. "Organised sport has done the job well and has followed the agreed protocols. Now people continue to do sport in a disorganised way and, therefore, traceability is complicated. The capacity of the virus to spread is greater with closed sports centres", claims Gerard Esteva, president of the UFEC.

2. The coronavirus does not play sports

Data from the Ministry of Health detail only 59 cases of contagion involving sport in recent weeks throughout the state. The figure represents 0.75% of the cases detected. If we analyse the cases since the beginning of the pandemic, sport only represents 0.27% of the infections: "The world of sport has acted well and now the possibility of control has been eliminated. We are asking for a bit of sanity for sport, which is an essential service," explains Pere Manuel, president of the Coplefc.

3. Sport is an essential service

As an essential service, sport has a direct impact on improving health, education and training, the social inclusion of disadvantaged groups, the fight for social integration and equal opportunities, and the fight against racism, violence and doping. According to UFEC data, the sports sector represents 2.1% of the Catalan GDP and employs 80,000 workers. Moreover, it has more than 40,000 volunteers and is an important gateway to the world of work for young people. The impact of the coronavirus on the sports sector has been devastating. Seven out of ten workers have been affected by furlough schemes. Overall, the sector will stop contributing almost one billion euro directly to the Catalan GVA; three out of ten workers will lose their jobs, and nearly half of the entities are in danger of disappearing.

"The economic effects on the sector will be devastating. The situation is of social alarm. The first wave affected seven out of ten workers in the sector. We are taking measures that the rest of Europe is taking in terms of bans, but not in terms of compensation," says Gerard Esteva, who puts the sector's losses at 1.3 billion euros and the approved aid at only 20 million. "We will see if the treasury of the federations and clubs can hold out," warns the UFEC president. "If the clubs close, they have no income and will have financial losses. They will have to close or reduce the budget. This grievance puts the successful model of Catalan sport at risk," recalls Enric Bertran, president of the Catalan Swimming Federation.

4. Sedentariness, a problem

Specialists continue to remind us that doing sport is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Physical activity has a direct impact our immune system, making it more resistant to diseases such as covid-19. "Sport is an ally in preventing the coronavirus, we are part of the solution, an ally of the health system. Sport is an essential activity. Someone who does sport is more prepared to fight the virus," says Esteva. "Sedentariness is also a pandemic and sport has to be considered an essential service. Closing the facilities increases insecurity and complicates traceability," recalls Josep Viladot, president of Gestiona. "Doctors prescribe physical activity and therefore we have to do it again in a safe way. Sport is one of the best tools to overcome this crisis. We think that ignorance is driving the decisions", criticises Oriol Serra, manager of Indescat.

An ongoing resource

The sports sector has appealed the decision to ban team sports and close down all facilities in Catalonia. The UFEC is also collecting signatures against the closure. Over 80,000 people have signed the petititon.

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