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Second legal challenge launched versus France’s ban on mixed martial arts

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Commission Française de Mixed Martial Arts joins the legal fight to overturn a ban on MMA in France.

Commission Française de Mixed Martial Arts (CFMMA) / International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF)

Days after a group led by lawyer and mixed martial arts practitioner Alexandre Allegret-Pilot launched a legal challenge against the French Sport’s Ministry’s decree to outlaw ground strikes and other techniques in combat sports (effectively banning MMA in the country), another group has also initiated their own legal appeal.

According to a press release from the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) the Comission Française de Mixed Martial Arts (CFMMA) launched their legal challenge on December 22nd.

The CFMMA, which was founded in 2009, is a non government sanctioning body which had regulated mixed martial arts contests in France prior to the French government’s October 3rd decree which put a halt to all MMA in the country.

The IMMAF describes itself as, “an international democratic governing body for the sport of MMA, representing stakeholders worldwide – athletes, coaches, referees, governments, athletic commissions, sports confederations, international associations, professional promoters and more.”

The IMMAF officially recognizes the CFMMA as an MMA regulating body in France.

The CFMMA’s president is Bertrand Amoussou, a former MMA fighter and bronze medalists at the 1990 European judo championships. Amoussou is also a member of the IMMAF’s board of directors.

Tatiana Vassine, a lawyer who contributed to the CFMMA’s case against the decree said the following regarding the French Sport Ministry’s decision on MMA and the reasons why the CFMMA launched their legal challenge against it:

“Challenging this decree is a duty as it causes unprecedented damage to the freedom of people to practice the sport of their choice in a country in which human rights are revered. MMA is a sport and must be treated as one, without any discrimination based on subjective and unjustified reasons. One positive result of this decree is that MMA will be able to defend its position on equal legal terms and challenge its detractors.”

IMMAF President, Kerrith Brown, also released a statement:

“IMMAF is concerned with the development of safe structures for the practice of MMA worldwide. Where the sport remains unrecognized, unregulated and unsupported, its participants remain at risk - as with any sport. In light of the sport’s growth and popularity, it is the social responsibility of governments and their sports administrations to enable the same protective structures and benefits as afforded participants of other recognized sports. To abdicate this responsibility amounts to discrimination. For the French State to issue a ban on the sport constitutes an unnecessary and aggressive assault on civil liberties.

“This assault on MMA’s practitioners echoes a familiar pattern globally, in which we are repeatedly seeing MMA’s bid for recognition blocked by the vested commercial interests of other martial arts organizations. IMMAF will continue to fight this injustice and prejudice that marginalizes our sport's practitioners and undermines its safe development.”

CFMMA President and IMMAF Board Director, Bertrand Amoussou, added:

“I have confidence in the ultimate success of our recourse. MMA is a natural development in martial arts history, which cannot be stopped. It is rather the position of the ministry which should be condemned, for trying at all costs to forbid a discipline authorized in almost all countries of the world, for the vested interests of particular groups.

“The work of the CFMMA, under the banner of IMMAF, promotes the safe and regulated practice of recreational and amateur MMA which should on no account be a cause of concern to governmental authorities. Our priority is the safety of our members and a mandate must be given to us so that we are enabled to ensure this under the best conditions.”

In a previous statement to Bloody Elbow, Amoussou named the French Judo Federation as a special interest group which has been instrumental in blocking MMA in France. French MMA fighter Tom Duquesnoy and Alexandre Allegret-Pilot (whose group launched their own legal challenge on the ban earlier this week) have made similar statements regarding the French Judo Federation and its president Jean-Luc Rougé.