Sports governing body, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF), based in the United Kingdom, and the English Mixed Martial Arts Association (EMMAA), have submitted evidence online to the (UK government’s) Department of Culture, Media and Sport Inquiry into Concussion in Sport.
This follows the questioning of the BBC’s decision to broadcast MMA on its iPlayer service by the leader of the parliamentary inquiry, MP Julian Knight, and the unsubstantiated references to MMA in the first hearing.
In its submission, IMMAF has cited its pioneering work with UK based medical charity, Safe MMA, and its in-event medical protocol, which it considers unrivalled in Olympic sports. Safe MMA uniquely provides independent medical screening, injury suspensions management and the provision of medical advice and information to athletes. Its medical board and panel consist of volunteer doctors and medical professionals with no commercial connection to any governing body or event organiser.
The governing body for amateur MMA also cited that it stands alone in combat sports in its banning head strikes for under 18s, based on reasonable age of consent. It further pointed to evidence of the positive social impact, as well as physical benefits, of training in MMA and its development of progression pathways and coaching accreditation, which has been recognised by National Olympic Committees and National Sports Authorities in forty-nine countries worldwide.
IMMAF and EMMAA’s submission expressed concern about the lack of government regulation of combat sports in the United Kingdom, citing this as a factor creating great risk to participants.
IMMAF CEO and judo Olympian, Densign White MBE, commented:
“There is no law in this country that requires participants and stakeholders of martial arts or combat sports to adhere to any minimum safety standard or to comply with any form of governance. And for as long as MMA is not officially recognized as a sport by Sport England, our power to govern or to regulate through local authorities is further undermined. It is our view, that it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the health and safety of participants in sport is guaranteed, as they are the only agents with the power to do so.”
IMMAF President Kerrith Brown, also an Olympian in judo, said:
“We believe that international sports NGOs have too much power in deciding which sports National Sports Authorities should recognise. As has been well documented in the international sports press, IMMAF has been blocked from gaining international sport recognition for, what we believe are commercial reasons, despite meeting all known governance criteria. The ultimate impact of these politics at a grassroots level in many countries is that participants of non-recognised sports can find themselves outlawed, as they are discriminated against in accessing basic medical and professional services that should mitigate risk, thus making sports less safe. We are keen to work with the British authorities to address this.”