The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) is deeply disappointed to learn that the European Judo Union (EJU) has threatened to cancel the European Judo Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, on account of UFC sponsorship of the event.
This follows the recent announcement from the world leading MMA organisation of a sponsorship deal that was to include promotion of the judo event to millions of MMA fans worldwide. The British Judo Association (BJA) is set to host the championships in just eight weeks’ time, from 9th – 11th April at the Emirates Arena. However, the EJU has written to the BJA threatening to cancel the event. The EJU has not stated whether it intends to host the championships elsewhere.
In the interest of judo athletes and fans, the UFC has agreed to withdraw its sponsorship but has stated its continued commitment to supporting British Judo and other combat sports associations.
As the global governing body of MMA, the IMMAF is dismayed and shocked by the EJU’s threat to the European Judo Championships. Like many of MMA’s athletes and fans, IMMAF holds judo in high regard as a founding discipline of MMA, which comprises a number of traditional and Olympic martial arts styles. IMMAF believes there is a synergy and shared values between the two sports that should be celebrated and that the organisations can offer each other mutual support and opportunities. In the UK the British Judo Association has fostered a positive relationship with MMA, supporting the United Kingdom MMA Federation’s application for sport recognition.
IMMAF believes that the EJU’s position is in conflict with the Olympic values of friendship and respect, and shows no regard for the universal sporting value of fair play.
Judo Olympian, former British Judo chairman and current IMMAF CEO, Densign White, said:
“This is a devastating move on behalf of the EJU that lacks consideration for judo and its athletes; this repudiates its responsibility as a democratic governing body. The Glasgow event has taken two years of work and preparation, athletes across Europe have been training for many months and national federations have already outlaid costs for the event. The withdrawal of the European Championships would be a blow to judo’s athletes, robbing them not only of this opportunity to compete, but also a pathway to the 2016 Olympic Games.”