Sport MMA

Saturday 24 February 2018

Tragic fatality puts spotlight on lack of regulation for smaller sports events

MMA fighter Joao Carvalho. Facebook/Nobrega Team
MMA fighter Joao Carvalho. Facebook/Nobrega Team
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The organisers of the MMA promotion which cost Joao Carvalho his life were not required to get a specific licence for the fight event, the Irish Independent understands.

Small indoor events such as the Total Extreme Fighting promotion at the National Stadium, where there were only a few hundred present, do not need specific clearance from a fire officer or the gardaí before they go ahead.

They are free to proceed as long as the venue has passed its annual fire safety check.

Such events are largely self-regulated from a medical perspective.

The supervisory body, in this case the Irish Amateur Pankration Association, would have been responsible for ensuring that appropriate medical safeguards and suitably qualified referees were in place.

It has released a statement offering condolences and pledging to co-operate with any investigation, but has not commented further.

The owner of the stadium, the Irish Amateur Boxing Association, was unable to say whether it attached any conditions regarding the level of medical support required when it agreed to rent out the venue for the event.

When asked if the stadium operators were satisfied medical requirements were met on the night, a spokesman said he was unable to comment but may be in a position to do so at a later stage.


Eventmed, a company which provides professional event medical services, said three doctors and a team of seven medics were present.

They also said a full post-fight medical protocol was observed when dealing with Mr Carvalho after he lost his bout.

However, the events of Saturday night have put the spotlight on the lack of regulation surrounding such promotions.

A Licensing of Indoor Events Act was introduced in 2003 to strengthen and provide additional enforcement powers for authorities. But for some reason it has never been implemented and no indoor event licensing regulations were subsequently issued. This is despite strong representations to the Department of Environment from the Chief Fire Officers Association.

It has sought the full operation of the legislation and powers to ensure they can compel organisers to co-operate.

Irish Independent

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