Translated from the AFP (French Press Agency) article published by Le Point on the 16th September 2016 The popular but also violent MMA ( mixed martial arts) could quickly get de facto recognition in France, despite fierce opposition from successive ministers of sports. A parliamentary report commissioned in April by Prime Minister Manuel Valls, and which must be delivered mid-October, will propose the establishment of a provisional authority, revealed its authors to AFP. The report is responsible for preparing for the legalization and supporting the structuring of the combat sport, whose competitions are for currently forbidden in France. WHY Legalise? France is in a schizophrenic situation in the name of “human dignity”. It prohibits competition in this discipline, which allows strikes on the ground and is fought inside an octagon called a “cage”, but tolerates its practice in thousands of clubs within its territory. Because of the no man’s land surrounding the legality of MMA, courses are offered in these clubs by self-appointed teachers with sometimes questionable safety. The primary motivation of supporters for legalisation is the implementation of the necessary framework for the burgeoning discipline. The second reason is more technical: The Council of Europe, on whose recommendation it is based in France to ban MMA, could amend the text in the coming months to reflect the success and the increasing structuring of the sport in many of its member countries. “Legalization is inevitable,” said Mederic Chapitaux, author of the book, ‘Sport, a Flaw in the Security of the State,’ in which he advocates the control of MMA via coaching. “The state has no other solution because it is its remit to regulate physical and sporting activities. No text recognised by local authorities bans MMA. To let it flourish without the framework would be a flaw in state security Legalise HOW? The two parliamentarians (Patrick Vignal, PS deputy of Herault and Jacques Grosperrin, Senator Doubs LR ), authors of the report, have outlined a roadmap for the future of MMA. “MMA is sitting on a pot of gold but representatives have so far been unable to agree,” said Patrick Vignal. Convinced that the ban makes no sense, that “you can not always say no, but the youth seek out MMA and not a substitute,” he is also convinced of the need to better control the sport on health grounds. Parliamentarians are expected to recommend in their report the creation of a party committee that would be responsible for about three years to assist in the delivery of a permanent structure representing MMA. This body could be composed of representatives of a federation or confederation of martial arts or combat sports, the Ministry of Sports, the Olympic movement, physicians and the two authors of the report.
MMA in France: Approaching the End of the Ban?
It could eventually lead to the creation of a federation. In any case a legal status for practitioners, clubs, competition organizers. The sports ministry, however, remains cautious about the final outcome: “The report is not finalized to date. I do not know the exact content of the report’s recommendations which will be considered by the Government in due course.” ensures Thierry Braillard. Legalise FOR WHOM ? In the absence of any legal existence, it is impossible to quantify the exact number in France of practitioners of MMA, often taught in gyms under another name. This number is however estimated to be at around 30,000 to 50,000 practitioners, supervised by professors of judo, karate, boxing or by individuals with no qualifications. Legalizing MMA will inevitably lead to a boom in practice. A poll by the Opinion Way Institute on a sample of 5000 people on behalf of the UFC, the North American professional league of MMA, reveals that 47% of French have a positive opinion of the MMA despite the sometimes violent character and negative image conveyed by the political authorities. A large majority (64%) also believes that the absence of legal status hinders the development of the sport, endangers practitioners (60%) and gives a bad image of MMA ( 61%).