© International Fair Play Committee. All rights reserved.
Print this article E-mail

Milestone in the Fair Play Story

Interview with Mr. Jenő Kamuti, President of the International Fair Play Committee on the occasion of the World Fair Play Day on 7 September.

     This year, 2020, the International Fair Play Committee will announce, in collaboration with other organizations, the World Fair Play Day. From now on, the day of Fair Play will be held on 7th September every year all around the world. On this occasion, we talked to Dr. Jenő Kamuti, President of the International Fair Play Committee (CIFP).  

     - There was no World Fair Play Day before. What is the reason for this first announcement of the sportsmanship day this year?

     I would start from the fact that the International Fair Play Committee /CIFP/ exists for 57 years. It was founded in Paris in 1963 by international sports organizations as well as UNESCO, AIPS and ICSSPE. During this time, it has been repeatedly demonstrated that there is a great need for an organization to promote Fair Play exclusively. Over the decades, CIFP has undergone many changes, gaining increasing recognition in the international sports world. Fair Play has become stronger and more popular. We have been able to move forward in a number of areas, one of the steps in this process is the proclamation of the World Fair Play Day. Our goal is to maintain Fair Play, clean sports on venues and other areas of life as well.

     - You are also a former Fair Play Awardee, Olympic silver medalist, world champion fencer, but also a civilian surgeon. Does Fair Play exist outside of sports fields?

     Absolutely, I can say! The world and its changes have presented humanity with more and more challenges for centuries. In contrast to evil, good things have always been needed to maintain the right balance. This is especially true nowadays. It’s also true that, in the eyes of the majority, Fair Play is primarily about sports, but that’s not a problem at all. Athletes have always been role models, so if they set a good example, people will follow them. It is no coincidence that the International Olympic Committee also prioritizes Fair Play, it is also included in the Olympic Charter, and from Juan Antonio Samaranch and Jacques Rogge to Thomas Bach, every IOC President draws attention to the importance of Fair Play in his speech at the Opening Ceremonies. Jacques Rogge once said that the champion of champions is the one who prepares honestly, without doping, and always competes in the spirit of Fair Play. He also showed me this way when he said, “Jenő, look for good examples and publish them with the help of the press so that everyone can hear, know about it”.

We are presenting ourselves not only at the Olympics, Youth Olympics, but also at the Universiade and other world championships, with a stand where we also meet the competitors personally.

     - Why is the first World Fair Play Day taking place this year?

     Years ago, me and my colleagues were dealing with the idea to have a special Fair Play Day. We approached UNESCO in 2012 and later it was discussed again at a meeting of European Sports Ministers, but people have changed in different positions and the process has stalled in the administration. Philippe Housiaux, one of our Council members, who has been organizing and holding the local Fair Play Day in Belgium for years, has proactively suggested that we should come together and declare the day 7 September this year as World Fair Play Day. Thanks to him, this allowed the event to take place in Brussels. The event will be organized by four international organizations, in addition to the International Fair Play Committee, the Panathlon International, the European Fair Play Movement and the Panathlon Wallonie-Bruxelles.

     - What is the next step? What will be the sequel?

     The real work begins just after this event. According to our plans, it will grow into a kind of movement when sports federations, associations, NOCs, schools start organizing their own local events, making the World Fair Play Day as a celebration. We would like to organize joint programs with the IOC, UNESCO, FISU, ISF and many other international organizations in the spirit of Fair Play. Of course, we also contact the National Olympic Committees, the international sports federations, not regarding the Olympic sports, but all kind of sports. I feel that school education and also university education are very important, as future generations need to know about sports, Fair Play and clean racing. I know that teachers, as well as coaches, need help with their work. Therefore, we develop easy-to-use materials and programs that can be easily integrated into school and association frameworks as a module.

     - Year after year we hear about the World Fair Play Awards, which are handed over by the International Fair Play Committee to worthy individuals and teams. Does this system remain in the future?

     Of course, it remains, and we even want to expand towards joint awards ceremonies together with international sports federations. There are several examples, one of this is FISU, as we have been awarding prizes together for years, or I could mention the FIE, which has set up their own Fair Play Committee. Every year, we issue a call in which we ask everyone to send it to us if they are aware of the Fair Play act, oeuvre. Anyone can nominate an individual as well as a sports organization. In more than five decades, we have been able to recognize many outstanding acts and personalities. These cases where people, competitors help each other, always fill me with joy, and I can say that all my colleagues feel the same. The award-system is a well-proven, recognized, big international gala that we will definitely continue.

     - So, from now on, September 7th will be the World Fair Play Day. Where and how can those interested join the program?

     We are active and available, recently on the internet. We can be found on our website, on Facebook and on almost all Social Media channels. Yes, good to say that it’s going to have an own World Fair Play Day. Mankind needs sport, and through that honesty. If anarchy reigns, man fights man, only money matters, we become distorted and the development of society goes in the negative direction. The Covid-19 virus has highlighted that health is paramount. It is also very important that there are no poor people, that social disparities do not grow very much. Recent decades have highlighted the importance of sport, but unfortunately Covid-19 has also shattered sport-life. If this continues, we, leaders need to put a lot of energy into keeping the love of sport awake. Events like the World Fair Play Day go a long way in getting as many people as possible to hear about Fair Play. The World Fair Play Day is a colorful, cheerful but solemn act where leaders, not only sports but also leaders of society, should put their faith and stand up for the movement and help make a better world in a reality.                                   


Gabor Deregan / CIFP; photo: HOC