A new wind shakes the elections in the sports federations

He held the rope firmly, he did not let go. Philippe Bana was elected on Saturday November 28 as president of the French Handball Federation. At 63, the irremovable technical director since 1999 is well ahead of his two opponents with 57.5% of the vote, and can breathe. He at least is not carried away by the wind of freshness which agitates the sports movement this fall.

The fact that, for the first time, the campaign was tough and between three candidates – in a federation accustomed to unanimous crownings – shows that the lines are moving. Elsewhere, other representatives of the system in place did not resist like Philippe Bana, who presented at least a flattering sporting record. On the tatami, Stéphane Nomis, 50, ex-blue from the 1990s who became an IT entrepreneur, defeated a Jean-Luc Rougé pretending to a fourth term and in the judo house since the 1980s. On the fencing side, Bruno Gares, 55, a former gunsmith for the French teams, prevented an Isabelle Lamour from aligning a third term in a row.

The Covid-19 accelerator

“The desire for renewal is a classic aspiration, the typical president being in the federations a man aged on average from 64 to 66 years old and running for a third term., underlines the sociologist William Gasparini, specialist in the governance of sports institutions. But this time the aspiration is all the more present as new challenges arise in terms of feminization, professionalization, adaptation to new practices, and this in a context disrupted by the Covid-19. “

Most Federations are, in fact, faced with significant redundancies and a terrible economic turmoil. But not only. The evil is also psychological, the morale of the volunteers appearing more and more leaden. “The pandemic has played a role of accelerator by highlighting the impossibility of continuing with a sport still dominated by the high level, analyzes Yohan Penel, 36, one of the three candidates for the presidency of the French Badminton Federation. Admittedly, the consideration of health sport or leisure sport among others, is present in the speeches, but most federations only tackle these subjects at the margins, without real global plans. “

Finally, take social performance into account

To change the situation, Yohan Penel proposed a “Citizen call” signed by some federal candidates such as Stéphane Nomis, new president of judo. The only contender declared for the moment for the presidency of the French Equestrian Federation, Anne de Sainte-Marie, 36, former director of the Cense stud farm, also a signatory, shares this desire to review the traditional sporting model. “We have had pioneers who have done a wonderful job, but whose ideas have dried up, with outdated management, difficulty in understanding societal changes, she blurted out. The number of licensees is important, but cannot be the only indicator. What interests me is the quality of life of my club leaders, which includes economic, ethical, etc. issues. “

For William Gasparini, the sports movement is crossed by a dynamic seeking to take better account of social performance. “ Medals and sports heroes are obviously still essential, supports the sociologist, but the societal dimension also requires mobilization: healthy sport, with a diversified offer and above all trained educators who are not competition coaches; the integration of young people, in difficult neighborhoods but also in the countryside; citizen sport, very important in the fight against radicalization; feminization finally. Do we need a new generation of leaders for this? I do not know. But we see that some of the answers go through digital technology, and that at this level, there is a real divide. “

Would sport be affected by degagism? “It is a real risk, but it is limited by respect for inheritances and people, swears Anne de Sainte-Marie. The opposite risk also exists: that of making major cultural errors. “ Refocus therefore, more than anything to revolutionize. “ But with determination, advocates Yohan Penel. Because to change in my opinion, it’s now or never. The latter evokes “The prospect of the 2024 Games”, but not only : “This time, if we do not manage to put sport in its rightful place by showing how it can respond to current social issues, I fear that afterwards it will be too late. “


The National Olympic Committee, the other essential campaign

“An educational, social, health, societal and economic objective. “ This is the mission that Patrice Martin wants to assign to sport, who announced in mid-November his candidacy for the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF). The president of the French Water Ski Federation since 2009 is currently the only candidate for the election scheduled for June 29, 2021. Because it is the other electoral campaign that looms after those of the federations. It will also be a question of adaptation to the current world, with major issues such as feminization or the place of e-sport which, again, shake up traditions.


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