Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross has criticised MMA bodies in Ireland for failure to produce suitable governance and safety standards for the sport in the country. These comments come in the wake of the result of the inquest into an MMA fighter's death in Dublin in 2016, which was ruled yesterday as death by misadventure.
In a joint statement with, the Minister with responsibility for Sport, Brendan Griffin, Ross sympathised with the family of Joao Carvalho, who died two days after his Total Extreme Fighting bout with Irish fighter Charlie Ward, while also describing the lack of a National Governing Body for MMA in Ireland as “unacceptable”:
I cannot begin to imagine how painful the passing of Joao Carvalho has been for Mr. Carvalho’s family and in particular his brother, Alexandre, who was at his bedside for his brother’s final moments,
The absence of a National Governing Body (NGB) for MMA in Ireland is unacceptable. All sporting organisations in Ireland are autonomous and self-governing. The Irish Government, through its agency Sport Ireland, works with the sports NGBs, to ensure that high standards of safety and governance are understood and put into place. It is absolutely crucial that the sports bodies do everything they can to protect the safety and welfare of their members.
Ross went onto accuse MMA leaders in the country from shirking responsibilty when it comes to implementing governing and safety structures in the sport:
It appears to me that MMA leaders here in Ireland are deliberately dragging their feet on the establishment of appropriate governance and safety standards.
Today I call on the Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association (IMMAA) to do the right thing – take the steps that are required to safeguard your fighters and prevent needless injury and loss of life.
Sport Ireland stands ready to help but can only help if you are willing to ask, and if you are willing to do the right thing.