The idea of fighting against chauvinism and violence in sport began to form at the beginning of the year 1963 when a seminar was held by the UNESCO Youth Institute in Germany. Sports officials of the International Committee for Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE) as well as journalists representing the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) gathered to discuss the possibility of united action for the promotion of fair play.
The new initiative was inspired by a tragic event that took place at the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960 where the attitude of 'winning by all means' took its first toll on human life. A Danish cyclist, Knud Jensen, died as a result of using prohibited performance enhancing substances. This shocking case awakened the sports world to the dangers of doping as well as the chauvinism, violence and commercialism that had started to become ever more dominant in competition. It was clear: sport had to be protected from all these frightful new tendencies. Moreover, in defending, preserving and emphasising its values sport has the power to be the inspiration for a dream in young people.
As a result of the negotiations it was decided to found the Pierre de Coubertin Fair Play Awards in order to bring to the public's attention honourable acts in sport.
In Paris on 5 December 1963, representatives of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), International Sports Press Association (AlPS), International Committee for Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE) and the International Federations of Basketball, Football, Rugby and Wrestling established the International Committee for the Organisation of the Pierre de Coubertin Fair Play Awards.
Jean Borotra, one of the legendary four French tennis players in the 1920s nicknamed 'The Four Musketeers' was elected the first president of the organisation (representing ICSSPE) along with Vice-Presidents Sir Stanely Rous (FIFA) and William Jones (FIBA) of Great-Britain. Jacques Ferran of France was appointed General Secretary.
On 29 January 1965, the inaugural World Fair Play Awards Ceremony was held and the first Pierre de Coubertin Fair Play Trophy was awarded to an Italian bobsleigh competitor, Eugenio Monti for his remarkable act at the Innsbruck Olympic Winter Games in 1964. During the two-men bobsleigh final he recorded an excellent time. Only the British Tony Nash and his partner could have defeated his team. It was thanks to his gentlemanly behaviour that that is what happened. Monti realised that Nash had broken a part of his sledge and without hesitation he detached the same part from his own vehicle and lent it to his rivals who went on to record the winning time and won the gold medal.
In 1973, the organisation decided to change its name to International Committee for Fair Play (CIFP). This was in indication of its burgeoning authority in the fair play movement but the objectives defined in its Statutes remained the same as those of the founders:
The aim of the CIFP is to preserve and promote respect for the spirit of fair play and the values it represents, not only in elite sport and sport for all but also in daily life, and, in particular, for written and unwritten rules, respect for the opponent and rejection of violence and doping.
In order to promote the values represented by fair play, the CIFP aims to influence the behaviour, methods, and social and ethical role of athletes, coaches, sports managers, parents, medical personnel, physical education teachers, sports organisations, referees and judges, the public in general and especially sports fans, the media, partners and sponsors.
The CIFP carries out its work in cooperation with the International Olympic Committee, UNESCO, various specialised sports federations, the national Olympic committees worldwide and all national and international organisations involved in physical and sports education and sport for the disabled.
The CIFP's primary role is the teaching of fair play and the prevention of behaviour contrary to fair play. The CIFP is actively involved in the development of fair play in the elaboration of teaching methods used in physical and sports education for young people and the disabled.
To this end, the activities of the CIFP include the organisation of many kinds of events, distribution of publications, allocation of annual awards in recognition of sporting conduct that demonstrates the spirit of fair play, and activities promoting fair play in sport.
In 1974, the CIFP took some steps and successfully approached both the International Olympic Committee and the UNESCO with the aim of joining forces with them to fight for the values and promotion of fair play in the world of sport as well as in society. The Director General of UNESCO, René Maheu, and the President of the IOC, Lord Killanin, accepted the invitation to become Honorary CIFP Presidents.
Enhancing its prestige, the CIFP in close cooperation with its eminent partners issued an important document, the 'Declaration on fair play', which was first published in English, German and Spanish and afterwards translated into many other languages.
The activity of the committee was in full swing during these years. Meetings were regularly held in different European countries attracting the most prestigious leaders in sport, education and the media. In addition, the CIFP received an International Non-Governmental Organisation and Consultative Status at UNESCO at the end of the 1970s.
In 1977, demonstrating that the fair play movement was ready to grow and make an impact not only on sport but also on society, the CIFP decided to award prizes to individuals who have distinguished themselves by exemplary humanitarian acts.
In the 1980's, noteworthy activities characterised the life of the CIFP. International seminars and consultations were organised with the participation of top leaders in sport and politics to initiate collective actions to defend the values of sport and efficiently reduce all forms of deviance, violence, doping and commercialism in sport. During this period the sculpture that has become one of the symbols of fair play since its creation by Jean Ipoustéguy was also inaugurated.
During the following decade the CIFP published a brochure entitled 'Fair Play for All' in which the organisation declared that fair play should be applicable in more areas than competitive sport, like sport for youth, mass sport, leisure sport, recreation and parasport.
The first five years of the 1990s saw a boost in the promotion of fair play. In addition to releasing a number of printed materials on the history of fair play and the award winners, the CIFP was represented at several international events organised to discuss various key issues in sport including a number of crucial questions concerning fair play. The presence of the CIFP at a congress on international sports law, a preparatory meeting of the Centennial Olympic Congress, as well as the Constituent Assembly of the European Movement for Fair Play (EMFP), generated huge media interest. Also, thanks to the CIFP's effective communications procedure, fair play appeared in the headlines of prestigious newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal.
The development of the movement came to an unfortunate and abrupt halt in 1996 after the death of the highly respected CIFP president, Willi Daume. Following a period of stagnation, the new leaders of the International Fair Play Committee had to realise that times had changed since the foundation of their organisation and a complete revamp was required if they were to keep pace with the changes in order to fulfil the expectations of new generations. This is what the CIFP is currently working on...