In June 2021, the European Parliament published a study entitled ‘EU sports policy: assessment and possible ways forward’. The study examined different elements including the structures based on voluntary work. Volunteering was recognised as the backbone for sport clubs since volunteers provide many services in local sport clubs, and without voluntary work, such services would not exist.
Despite the recognition of the importance of voluntary work for the sport sector, volunteering was not identified as a relevant topic in the future EU policy-making. Such an assessment was based on the responses of the stakeholders selected to represent the sport sector in the study. In the past, respondents ranked volunteering in the last place (15th). In the present, they ranked it in the 9th place. In the future, they didn’t recognise it as one of the 15 priority areas for policy-making.
Considering that the study has recognised the importance of voluntary work in sport clubs, it is difficult to explain why wasn’t it recognised as a relevant topic for policy-making in the future. Regardless, the study does give two policy recommendations related to volunteering: to take steps to provide sustainable solutions for increased volunteering in sport, and to support volunteering as an educational tool.
It remains unclear what could have potentially influenced the results of the study to exclude volunteering as relevant for policy-making in the EU, especially because it was identified as ‘the backbone’ of the sport sector. It would be worthwhile for future studies to reconsider how sampling influences the representativeness of the sport stakeholders since it often includes many stakeholders that operate outside of the sport sector (i.e. in the field of science, education, etc.). Another explanation could be that results were affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.