In 1999, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted a recommendation concerning the “the prohibition of free fighting contests, such as cage fighting”. Society and the practice of such activities have evolved greatly since then and so EPAS has again taken up this issue in 2014.

Initially, on the basis of replies received from member states to a questionnaire and a round table discussion in 2014, a new debate with experts within the Governing Board of EPAS on the subject led to a factsheet being drawn up on the nine most important issues highlighted.  This resulted in EPAS concluding an in-depth study with experts in 2017 in a working group format, and notably interviews with numerous actors in this field. The mandate given to this working group was to prepare the elements for a possible new recommendation on the matter. The final draft of the new recommendation and its explanatory memorandum were approved by the EPAS Governing Board during its meeting in September 2020.

Then, on 31 March 2021, the Committee of Ministers adopted the Recommendation to its member States on extreme martial art and combat activities (CM/Rec(2021)3). The new recommendation focuses on those aspects which can significantly help to prevent risks to the health of the practitioners, so that these activities are in keeping with the requirements of existing norms with regard to the values of sport, the prevention of doping and the manipulation of sports competitions, fair competition and the training of coaches and referees.

The main stakeholders who are asked to take action include governments’, (recognised) sports organisations, ad hoc bodies for the regulation of Extreme Martial Arts and Combat Activities, such as national platforms, authorities, working groups, as well as commercial organisations organising extreme martial arts and combat activities.

The recommendation sets the aims, calls for multi-stakeholder co-operation and invites EPAS to follow up and facilitate co-operation.

It is completed by Guidelines which outline the key areas covered by the recommendation and specify the role expected from the various stakeholders. It replaces the above-mentioned Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation R(99)11 which was on the prohibition of free fighting contests such as cage fighting.

 Recommendation (CM/Rec(2021)3) and its Appendix (Guidelines)

 Explanatory Memorandum (CM(2021)30-addfinal)