11 October 2023

As the ground-breaking WINS project draws to a conclusion at the end of 2023, the WINS Final Conference provided the perfect opportunity to showcase the results of the project so far, and to inspire the participants at the event to strive even harder for gender equality in sport officiating.

Over 40 participants from across Europe and beyond came together at the picturesque venue of the Chateau de la Solitude in Brussels on the 5th of October for the event titled “European Women Sport Officiating Forum”.

The event was superbly moderated by Gwenda Stevens, Board Member of WINS Partner International Federation for Sport Officials (IFSO). Ben Gittus representing WINS Coordinator EOSE kicked off the event with some audience participation, first asking participants where they are from and which sports they are involved in, before asking their views on gender issues in sport officiating.

Ben then presented the background to the WINS project, including the key aims, partners and outputs to be achieved by the end of 2023.

The first group of key-note speakers focused on the outputs of the WINS project. Dr Tom Webb representing University of Portsmouth gave an overview of the WINS research phase which has seen the publication of a European Research Report on Gender and Sport Officiating (available here).

Tom covered the research process before emphasising the key recommendations coming from the research which could help to facilitate gender equality in officiating. Yolande Brada representing the Dutch National Olympic Committee then updated the audience on the WINS Compendium of Good Practice Examples, which will showcase organisations who have put in place positive actions to support women officials. Finally in this session Janie Frampton representing Sports Officials UK passionately presented the rationale for a practical online toolkit to support the sector with engagement of women officials, based on her years of experience as an official, and the structure and main themes of the WINS online toolkit which will be released to the sector soon.

Following a short break the audience were treated to a truly inspiring session which could not fail to motivate delegates to go back to their sports and countries to deliver actions in support of women sport officials.

Two high level women officials in Charlotte Girard-Fabre (Winter Olympics and World Championships official in Ice Hockey, and Secretary General of IFSO) and Céline Martin-Schmets (international level men’s and women’s hockey umpire), gave fascinating insights into their journey to reach the top in sport officiating. Their boundless energy, positivity and passion for the role of official was clear for all to see, but was also delivered with a dose of realism for the issues faced by women and what could change for the better for the next generation of women officials. The third member of the panel, Kateryna Lavryk representing the Council of Europe, informed the audience of the role of the Council of Europe in gender equality in sport, the “All in Plus” project, and how it links to officiating as a key part of the overall sport sector.

Patrick Vajda, President of IFSO provided a closing contribution empasising how valuable and inspiring the event had been and how it could be a catalyst for actions across Europe to develop women in sport officiating. Patrick discussed how it is important to measure the number of officials (male and female) and only then can dedicated actions be implemented to support the officiating workforce.

The conclusions of the event were clear at the end:

    1. No sport officials = no sport
    2. Women are the future of sport officiating

The organisers would like to thank International University Sports Federation (FISU) for the use of the Chateau de la Solitude as the venue for the event.

Keep an eye on the WINS project website www.wins-sport.eu for the launch of the final project outputs before the end of 2023, including the innovative online toolkit to support the engagement of women officials, Compendium of Good Practice examples, and Mentoring and Leadership Guide for women sport officials.

List of WINS partners

    • European Observatoire of Sport and Employment (EOSE)
    • International Federation for Sports Officials (IFSO)
    • Association Française du Corps Arbitral Multisports (AFCAM)
    • Sports Officials UK (SOUK)
    • European Athletics
    • European Hockey Federation (EHF)
    • Dutch Olympic Committee * Dutch Sports Federation (NOC*NSF)
    • University of Portsmouth
    • National Sports Academy “Vassil Levski” (NSA)


Mr Aurélien Favre – EOSE Executive Director – Click here