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Sociology of Sport This report presented to the Helsinki European Council on 11 and 12 December 1999 is the result of the mandate given to the Commission by the Vienna European Council on 11 and 12 December 1998 2 Sport is one of the areas of activity that most concerns and brings together the citizens of the European Union irrespective of age and social origin More than half of them regularly practice a sport either in one of the 700 000 clubs that exist in the Union or outside these clubs Almost two million teachers instructors and voluntary workers spend their working or leisure time organising sporting activities These people play an essential role of education and social integration at a time when our societies are experiencing major problems of social cohesion and cultural identity 3 This social function of sport which is in the general interest has for some years been affected by the emergence of new phenomena of a different nature which sometimes call into question the ethics of sport and the principles on which it is organised phenomena such as violence in the stadiums corruption the spread of doping the exploitation of young sportsmen and women and the search for quick profits to the detriment of a more balanced development of sport 4 In spite of certain differences between the Member States there are many common features in the ways in which sport is practised and organised in the Union and it is therefore possible to talk of a European approach to sport For several years the European approach to sport has been affected by several phenomena the rise in the popularity of sport in terms of the numbers of practitioners and spectators the internationalisation of sport with the increase in the number of international competitions the unprecedented development of the economic dimension of sport with the spectacular increase in television rights 5 These phenomena provide certain
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