The French Boxing Federation (FFB) has been chosen to oversee mixed martial arts as the sport becomes officially recognised in France.
The federation, which oversees traditional boxing disciplines but not savate (or ‘French boxing’), was among six federations in the running for the governance role.
MMA will now be overseen by the FFB for a year, before a review by the French Ministry of Sports ahead of a possible renewed mandate or the creation of an autonomous MMA federation in France.
Other national federations that were vying for the role included the French Wrestling Federation (FFL) and the French Karate and Associated Disciplines Federation (FFK). Also in the mix were the French Federation of Kickboxing, Muay Thai and Associated Disciplines (FFKMDA), the French Federation of French Kickboxing and Associated Disciplines (FFSBFDA) and the French Sports and Physical Exercise Federation (FSGT).
The French Judo Federation (FFJDA), which initially fought against the legalisation of MMA in France before expressing a desire to oversee it, withdrew from the race.
France has been one of few countries in the world that does not recognise MMA as a sport, making it impossible for the hugely popular UFC series to hold an event in one of Europe’s major markets.
Roxana Maracineanu, the French sports minister, told L’Équipe that there are between 30,000 and 50,000 people who practice MMA in France.
The choice of the FFB in the supervisory role has been made “to respond to the strong development of the practice and not to let it develop in the shadows, especially for reasons of safety, the integrity of athletes but also the fight against certain [potential] by-products such as doping or radicalisation”.
The decision was made after gathering input from the French Olympic Committee (CNOSF).