Within a few days, the amateur sports world had toppled over into uncertainty. Stopping of competitions, cancellation of the basketball and handball championships in particular, establishment of partial unemployment in a good number of structures. And necessarily a great concern hovering over the future. At the outset, these images of the steering committees of sports federations organized by videoconference with elected officials, sometimes elderly, discovering with confinement a new mode of communication, could have led to a smile.
At the French handball federation (FFHB), meetings now take place every Friday. “This technology ultimately makes it possible to broaden the consultation process,” notes President Joël Delplanque. This way of reuniting will certainly continue after confinement. ” Links have also been tightened between certain federations, all on board the same boat. In the storm, the famous BHV (Basket-Handbal-Volley) was reconstructed. “We had a common problem, especially if we had to sell the amateur championships since we would have occupied the same rooms at the same time”, continues the president.
If faced with the health risk, the FFHB was the first to stop its season (the principle of classification on date was retained, the numbers of climbs and descents were adapted), basketball and volleyball came to take advice at the time of also cancel theirs. The solidarity movement extends to the clubs. “We have deaths, suffering, the federation must rise to the occasion by telling the clubs that it is present and listening to them. We must accompany them through this tunnel, insists Joël Delplanque. It’s dense and it’s mostly made of flesh and bone. ”
“We adapt continuously”
The French sports movement hopes to create a sports aid fund. Another possibility is the recognition of the nature of a natural disaster, which would trigger insurance. “But at this stage, the epidemic is not eligible,” notes Joël Delplanque. In the early days of the crisis, 51% of the 5,500 sports structures adhering to the social council of the sports movement (Cosmos) planned to set up partial activity. A figure which has not yet been updated but which has certainly skyrocketed with the extension of the containment.
Some federations, such as football, use short-time working as of April 1, as do a large number of associations. “Most amateur clubs in the field hire activity supervisors and sometimes administrative employees,” recalls Clio Petrarca, legal manager at Cosmos. However, they no longer have any activity. The number of questions asked by the 5,500 Cosmos members jumped 160%, proof that a real concern has taken hold of the sports world. “The situation is unknown, the texts change a lot, we are constantly adapting, depending on each person’s situation, especially if the competitions are canceled or not,” says Clio Petrarca.
Some associations hope to be able to resume an activity after confinement and set up a system for several days, others anticipate in the longer term and fear economic difficulties at the start of the school year. “The clubs ask us about the future price of the license, more than ever I have to show my 2,500 associations that I am there. They legitimately want visibility, while we are confronted with uncertainty “, underlines Joël Delplanque, president of a handball federation which will have to revise its budget (the code of associations provides that it will be adopted on June 30 , which promises to be legally complicated in the absence of auditors). “
“All of our partners also told us that they were there for us”
At the athletics federation where partial activity is under discussion, we have to deal with the uncertainty of the holding of the European Championships at the end of August. Its cancellation, combined with a renegotiation of federal sponsorship contracts that have necessarily become undecided, could jeopardize the financial balance of the FFA. Hence the anticipation of measures.
All federations will be faced with the problem of marketing revenue. The FFHB hopes to avoid the storm. “We quickly closed the Handball House and thanks to the understanding of the service providers, we will be able to limit the damage,” hopes the president. All of our partners also told us that they were there for us, which necessarily comforts us. One of them, the Caisse d’Épargne even offered to set up a support system for clubs. “
“The federations are the bridgeheads but we must not forget all the clubs on the field who row because they are the least equipped in this storm,” said Clio Petrarca. And the damage caused by the pandemic is far from being established.