International University Sports Federation

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This article is about the International University Sports Federation. For other uses, see FISU (disambiguation).
International University Sports Federation
Fédération internationale du sport universitaire
FISU International University Sport Federation.svg
Formation 1 January 1949; 66 years ago (1949-01-01)
Type Sports federation
Headquarters Switzerland Lausanne, Switzerland[1]
Official language
French, English
Russia Oleg Matytsin

The Fédération internationale du sport universitaire (FISU, English: International University Sports Federation) is responsible for the organisation and governance of worldwide competitions for student-athletes between the ages of 17 and 28. It was founded in 1949 as the world governing body of national university sports organisations and currently has 167 member associations (national federations) from five continents. Between 1949 and 2011, it was based in Brussels (Belgium); since 2011, it is based in Lausanne (Switzerland).

It is the only international federation with more than 50 sports on its competition program.[citation needed] The FISU stages its events every two years. They currently include two Universiades (summer and winter) and 32 World University Championships.

Meanwhile, FISU permanently links the academic world with sports by hosting a number of educational events – conferences, forums and seminars. These events closely assist in promoting sport as one of the main components of the educational system.[2]

FISU sanctions other competitions open to university students, such as the biennial World University Bridge Championships in contract bridge, "played under the auspices of the FISU".[3]


FISU was officially formed in 1949, but its origin goes back to the 1920s when the Frenchman, Jean Petitjean, organized the first "World Student Games" in Paris, France in May 1923. The following year saw the birth of the International Confederation of Students (ICS), which held a congress in Warsaw, Poland. Several delegations took part and the movement was launched. From 1925 to 1939, many great sporting events were organized by the students and the ICS: in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1925, Rome, Italy in 1927, then again in Paris, Darmstadt, Germany (1930), Turin, Italy (1933), Budapest, Hungary (1935), Paris (1937) and Monaco (1939). The Second World War interrupted these meetings, but when peace was restored, France re-launched the World University Games

This peace was relative, because the shadow of the Cold War soon divided university sport. In 1949, although the International Students Union (ISU) organized games at which very few western countries participated, the International University Sports Federation (FISU), born the previous year in Luxembourg, was officially founded and organized its first International University Sports Weeks bringing together the western delegations. These meetings took place notably in Meran, Italy (1949), Luxembourg (1951), Dortmund, Germany (1953) and San Sebastián, Spain (1955). In a new departure in 1957,the Paris University Club under the influence of Jean Petitjean organized a World University Sports Championship, which brought together students from Eastern and Western blocks in Paris at the Stade Charlety. He enlisted the aid of an American student athlete in Paris, Martin Feinberg, to assist him. At the same time Mr. Feinberg also succeeded in getting American authorities to officially send 20 student athletes to the Games.

From this meeting came the desire to organize a universal event in which students from all over the world could participate. In 1959, FISU and the ISU agreed to participate in the games organized in Turin by the Italian association: CUSI. That year was undoubtedly the one that left the biggest impression on the federation. In fact, the Italian organizers baptized these 1959 games with the name Universiade and created the flag with a "U" surrounded by stars, which was going to begin its journey around the world, and replaced the national anthems at the medal-awarding ceremonies by the Gaudeamus Igitur. The Universiade in Turin was a success for the local executive committee and for the man who was going to change the future of the university sports movement: Dr Primo Nebiolo. At this Universiade, which brought together 43 different countries and 1,400 participants, many non-member federations asked to become members of FISU. Adin Talbar, the Israeli representative, forcibly lobbied the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to join FISU.[4][5]

However, even though university sports finally led a peaceful coexistence, the modus vivendi still needed to be established. In addition to the agreement that was made concerning national symbols (neither flags nor anthems) and on the program, FISU determined its philosophy in article 2 of its statutes by stipulating: "FISU pursues its objects without consideration or discrimination of a political, denominational or racial nature". From then on, FISU was to organize the Games on a worldwide level.

Ever since this important period, the Universiades continues to attract more and more participants. It went from a total of 1407 participants in Turin 1959 - including 985 student-athletes - to a total of 10.624 in 2009 (Shenzhen, China) - and 174 countries in 2003, Daegy, Korea.

The Winter Universiades experienced the same success. In fact, the statistics show that 98 athletes participated in 1958 at the Universiade in Zell am See, Austria while 2511 participants competed at 2007 Winter Universiade held in Torino (Italy) and 52 countries were present In Erzurum, Turkey for 2009 edition of Winter Univesiade.

In 2011, the International University Sports Federation moved its headquarters from Brussels (Belgium) to Lausanne (Switzerland).

World University Championships[edit]

The other important sport events of FISU are the World University Championships. The spreading of the university sport in the world created a new series of meetings and competitions to complete the program of the Universiade. FISU supports the competitions which represent the continuity of university sport and allows the federation to be better known. In 2004, FISU organised 25 World University Championships that attracted 4,845 participants from a total of 186 (of which 90 different) countries. In 2006, FISU staged 27 WUCs attracting 5,852 participants from a total of 209 (of which 90 different) countries and for 2008, 30 WUCs are attributed. WUC Sports Program: Archery - Badminton - Baseball - Beach Volleyball - Bridge - Chess - Cross Country - Cycling - Equestrian - Flat Water Canoeing - Floorball - Futsal - Golf - Handball - Field Hockey - Karate - Match Racing - Orienteering - Rowing - Rugby 7 - Sailing - Shooting - Softball - Squash - Taekwondo - Triathlon - White Water Canoeing - Waterskiing - Weightlifting - Woodball - Wrestling

Emblem and flag[edit]

The flag of the International University Sports Federation.

The Italian University Sports Center (CUSI) created the emblem for the 1959 World University Games, although the stars were originally curved around the bottom of the U.

FISU has recently renewed the design of its emblem in order to improve the consistency of the emblems at the FISU events. The emblem consists of a black letter "U" printed on a white background, centered over 5 stars divided into two lines. The 3 upper stars are from left to right respectively: blue, black and red, and the 2 lower stars are yellow and green in the same way of the Olympic rings. The 'FISU' logotype, in black, is centered beneath the stars.

The FISU flag includes the emblem of FISU centered on a flag made out of white material.


FISU is composed of a General Assembly which represents the members (163 National University Sports Federations). It is FISU's main governing body. It elects the Executive Committee for a period of four years, which takes all the necessary decisions for the smooth running of FISU. Ten permanent commissions advise the Executive Committee in their specialised areas and so to simplify its duties. FISU is funded through subscription, organising and entry fees, television incomes, and marketing activities.

The president of FISU is currently Claude-Louis Gallien.

FISU Conference[edit]

The FISU Conference takes place at the same time as the Universiade, complementing the sporting aspect with sociological study and scientific research, thus illustrating the need to bring together Sport and the University Spirit. This FISU Conference also entitled "Conference for the Study of University Sport" tackles topics relating to the different aspects of sport and physical education.

FISU Forum[edit]

Since, like the Universiade, the Congress is biennial, FISU wished to give students and university sport officials the opportunity to meet more often to discuss subjects involving education, culture and sport, through Forum seminars. Practically speaking, Forum seminars will take place every two years, alternating with Universiade years, and each time in a different location.

University championships[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 1949-2011: Brussels (Belgium). Since 2011: Lausanne (Switzerland).
  2. ^ FERREIRA, P. (2010) Strategy Assessment of International Sports Federations – Case study of the International University Sports Federation (FISU). Executive Masters in Sports Organisation Management, University of Poitiers, France.
  3. ^ World University Team Cup. World Bridge Federation. 5th World University Bridge Championship event website (2010). Chinese Taipei University Sports Federation. Retrieved 2011-08-12.
  4. ^ "FISU Letter" No. 78 (2001).
  5. ^ "Letter from Nicholas Rodis, Special Assistant for Athletic Programs to Adin Talbar." US Department of State. Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. 2. March 1967.

External links[edit]

Media related to International University Sports Federation at Wikimedia Commons