Sport Ireland distances itself from investigation into MMA death

Sport Ireland has distanced itself from the investigation into the tragic death of Joao Carvalho after taking part in a Total Extreme Fighting-promoted contest on Saturday, saying “it does not recognise MMA in any form”, writes Stephen Barry.

MMA has been criticised by the acting Minister for Sport Michael Ring, who claimed he saw the tragedy coming.

He wants to engage with the Sport Ireland, the statutory authority which governs sport in the country, over the options available for officially recognising MMA as a sport in Ireland and regulating it.

Joao Carvalho fighting Charlie Ward at the National Stadium, Dublin on Saturday. Picture: Dave Fogarty
Joao Carvalho fighting Charlie Ward at the National Stadium, Dublin on Saturday. Picture: Dave Fogarty

Sport Ireland are open to such discussions, but clarified that it won’t be playing a part in the investigation into Carvalho’s death.

“The primary responsibility for Health and Safety for an event rests with the organiser and the relevant governing body,” said a statement issued by Sport Ireland.

“Any review of the tragic events of last Saturday should be carried out by relevant authorities. That does not include Sport Ireland as it does not recognise MMA in any form.

“Sport Ireland will work with the Department of Sport to establish how MMA operates in Ireland and under what regulatory framework it may operate in the future.”

However the statutory sports agency has had “no formal engagement with any organisation representing MMA on recognition to date.”

The statement went on to outline the process of applying for recognition.

“Sport Ireland recognises National Governing Bodies of sport and operates a recognition programme for sports/disciplines that do not have that status.

“Sports seek recognition as it provides access to funding and other supports and services from Sport Ireland.

“For many organisations it is valuable as an endorsement of that body which may be important for governance and commercial reasons.

“There is a process for recognition and criteria that must be met.

“Without going into huge detail the applicant should be able to demonstrate that it is a functioning corporate body (M & As, audited accounts, functioning board, etc.), is affiliated with a relevant international organisation, is operating as the governing authority with rules, etc. and has clubs and memberships around the country.”

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