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On November 27, at the Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation, with the assistance of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a meeting was held with the ambassadors of African states accredited in Moscow.

The Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia M.L.Bogdanov, who took part in the event, expressed gratitude to the Minister of Sports of the Russian Federation O.V. Matytsin for organizing this meeting aimed at strengthening the Russian-African cooperation in general and in the field of sports in particular.

M.L.Bogdanov noted that today the African states are confidently moving along the path of political, socio-economic, scientific and technological development, acting as active and responsible members of the world community. Their voice is being heard more and more in upholding the principles of justice, creating an equal and polycentric system of international relations, consolidating collective principles in world affairs while maintaining the central role of the UN. The awareness by Africans of their own unique system of civilizational identity is becoming more palpable.

Africa is home to many of the world’s greatest sporting achievements. Africans are at the forefront of athletics, team sports, and impressive results in team and individual competitions at the World Championships and the Olympic Games. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of African footballers play for the leading clubs in England, France, Portugal and Italy. Since the early 2000s, about 200 African footballers have played in Russian football leagues, and many of them represent the colors of our most famous clubs: Spartak, Zenit, Dynamo, CSKA, Lokomotiv.

International cooperation in the field of sports and physical culture, the establishment of sports ideals in the world are an effective way to strengthen respect and mutual understanding between peoples. At the same time, we have to admit that lately sport has increasingly become hostage to an unscrupulous political struggle. Certain countries use sports topics for their narrowly political purposes. Various sanctions and restrictions are used. We presume that the politicization of sports and discrimination against athletes on the basis of nationality should be absolutely unacceptable.

Despite the fact that unfriendly actions against Russia in the field of sports are part of the general policy of containing our country, it is necessary to understand that such restrictions can be imposed on any state, including African, as has happened repeatedly in modern history. Therefore, it is fundamentally important to comprehensively strengthen the coordination of Russian and African approaches at international venues, in particular in the International Olympic Committee, in order to build a universal system of international sports cooperation based on the principles of independence and autonomy of sport.

It is imperative that the principles of cleanliness in sport be consolidated equally for all. It is unacceptable to allow athletes of some states to use stimulants and the latest medical advances with impunity to demonstrate high achievements, while in relation to others – to impose severe collective punishment. Russia has consistently opposed and continues to oppose any form of doping and any kind of manipulation during the competition, upholds the universal principles of Olympism, honesty and purity in the conduct of sports competitions, while the collective responsibility of national teams for the offenses of individuals is inadmissible.

Much remains to be done in the sphere of bilateral Russian-African sports cooperation, the potential of which is far from being exhausted. One of the tasks in the near future is the creation of a strong bilateral regulatory framework for cooperation in the field of sports. It is also necessary to establish closer contacts between Russian and African sports federations and associations, to work out the possibilities of mutually beneficial use of the sports infrastructure of interested countries, mechanisms for the exchange of experience and delegations.

Sports topics played an important role in the discussions on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa summit held in Sochi in October 2019. The building up of ties in the field of sports between our countries is fully in line with the course taken following the results of the Sochi events for the all-round and comprehensive development of Russian-African cooperation.

The recently formed Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, through the expert and public councils created under it, can also contribute to the implementation of this task.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

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