Glasgow to use European Capital of Sport 2023 status to increase sporting opportunities and improve lives

Glasgow to use European Capital of Sport 2023 status to increase sporting opportunities and improve lives

Glasgow is taking on the mantle of European Capital of Sport (ECOS) 2023 – and becomes the first city to hold the title twice, 20 years after first achieving the accolade.

Glasgow is a global sporting city and world leader in using sport to change lives, and the first phase of an ECOS Fund has awarded more than £40,000 to communities across the city to increase opportunities for people to take part in sport and get active.

Glasgow Life, the charity that delivers culture and sport in Glasgow, is providing funding to 57 sporting organisations throughout the city that applied for £750 grants to support people to get active, regardless of background or ability.

The ECOS Fund prioritises projects which support underrepresented groups, such as women and girls, ethnic minorities, those with disabilities and low-income families.

The first round of grants is aimed at activities between January and June 2023, ranging from grassroots sporting events and open days to new club sessions and community-based programmes. The second phase of the ECOS Fund, for projects taking place from July until December, will open on 1 April and close on 8 May.

Glasgow’s successful bid to be named ECOS 2023 was confirmed in 2019 by ACES Europe, a non-profit association based in Brussels, Belgium.

Receiving the baton from The Hague in the Netherlands, Glasgow’s ECOS 2023 status officially kicks off as Rangers face Celtic at Ibrox Stadium on 2 January, with both clubs joining forces with fellow ECOS partners Glasgow Warriors and Drumchapel Community Sport Hub to help promote sport in the city throughout 2023.

The city’s second stint as ECOS celebrates two decades of success, development and investment, including the contribution made by coaches and volunteers during a time when Glasgow established its place among the world’s top sporting cities. Over the last 20 years, Glasgow has invested more than £200 million in its world-class sporting venues, including the Emirates Arena, Glasgow BMX Centre and the refurbished Kelvin Hall.

Glasgow has hosted a series of world-class events at outstanding venues during this period, including the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships at the Hydro, the first-ever European Championships in 2018 at the Emirates Arena and UEFA EURO 2020 fixtures at Hampden Park, attracting thousands of top-level athletes and spectators from around the world in the process.

Monthly ECOS 2023 themes like ‘Health and wellbeing’ in March and ‘Sport for communities’ in May will tie in with regular challenges and social media initiatives to encourage Glasgow’s residents and visitors to get out and get active.

Glasgow will also welcome the globe’s greatest riders for the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships when the inaugural contest hits roads and tracks across Scotland in August. Two-hundred rainbow jerseys will be up for grabs over 13 UCI Cycling World Championships, including BMX Racing, Indoor Cycling, Mountain Bike Downhill and Road events.

As 2023 progresses, September’s ‘Sport and physical activity for all ages’ theme will see initiatives and challenges devised to help deliver another of Glasgow’s ECOS goals: supporting positive ageing, building wellbeing, and promoting connections within and between diverse communities. The year will culminate in a celebration of sport and activity in December, coinciding with Glasgow’s Sport Awards.

Bailie Annette Christie, Chair of Glasgow Life and Convenor for Culture, Sport and International Relations for Glasgow City Council, said: 

“Becoming the first city to be named European Capital of Sport for a second time is a historic achievement for Glasgow. The ECOS status reaffirms Glasgow’s credentials as a world-class sporting city, and presents a great opportunity to change more lives for the better through sport – at grassroots level in our communities and schools, and professionally through our elite level clubs and top-class facilities.

“Earning the title of European Capital of Sport for the second time in two decades demonstrates the part sport has played – and will continue to play – in the city’s progress, which has seen Glasgow become a world leader when it comes to harnessing the power of sport and physical activity to improve lives.”

Laura Muir, Commonwealth Games 1500m gold medallist and Sportsperson of the Year Award winner at Glasgow’s Sport Awards 2022, said:

“It’s fantastic Glasgow has been named the European Capital of Sport because it just shows how the city is so proactive in so many different areas of sport, not just at the elite level but with youngsters as well. It’s a fantastic place to be, both competing as an elite athlete and also for those grassroots athletes coming up.”

A spokesperson for Rangers FC said:

“It is a pleasure for everyone associated with Glasgow Rangers Football Club to support our home city, as we prepare to become European Capital of Sport 2023. Securing the status is a remarkable achievement, and all the more special that Glasgow is the only European city to have been awarded this fabulous sporting accolade on two occasions.

“All at Rangers know Glasgow will superbly host all the different sporting disciplines that will be represented in our city throughout the year. Glasgow Rangers Football Club wish all who worked to secure the European City of Sport status, and those who will strive to make all events a success during 2023, the very best, and we know our great city will warmly welcome all.”

A spokesperson for Celtic FC said:

“We are delighted that the city has once again achieved this status of European Capital of Sport. As a club open to all since 1888, we are also pleased that through this initiative and the associated ECOS Fund, so many diverse groups will be able to access funding, support and ultimately important new opportunities through sport, in particular assisting women and girls, ethnic minorities, those with disabilities and low-income families.”

Alastair Kellock, Managing Director of Glasgow Warriors, said:

“Becoming the first city to be named as European Capital of Sport twice only serves to further underline the sporting credentials that we know are just one of the things to make Glasgow such a fantastic place to live and work.

“It’s a historic achievement for the city, but it pays tribute to the extent to which Glasgow as a city and as a community is passionate about encouraging and inspiring people to get involved in sport and physical activity. We can’t wait to work together to inspire our community and showcase one of the many qualities that makes Glasgow unique.”

For more information, and to download a Glasgow ECOS 2023 digital toolkit to get involved, visit the dedicated Glasgow Life webpage.