France Cowardly Rejects MMA; Cites UFC's Conduct Against Women

By Rich Bergeron
Dana White
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

New York State and France now have something in common: their penchant for retreating … at least when it comes to MMA regulation.

Both jurisdictions continue to hold out against legalizing professional mixed martial arts. ESPN recently reported that France’s reasons for refusing to allow the sport are remarkably similar to the main force driving New York’s refusal to sanction it.

A particularly vicious campaign executed by the Las Vegas Culinary Union may be to blame for both New York and France’s decision to deny MMA. The union is trying to organize the workers at Station Casinos, so they are targeting majority UFC owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta III by blasting the top-dog MMA league and exposing the company’s worst flaws.

The Fertittas are also the principal owners of Station Casinos. The Culinary Union is actively working on multiple fronts to pressure the Fertittas by any means possible, and one of their most aggressive pursuits is finding dirt on the UFC.

The union’s efforts are particularly effective at exposing UFC President Dana White‘s derogatory statements against women and the league’s past toleration of fighters who made inflammatory statements against females. They even set up a website titled “Unfit for Children” to play on the initials of the UFC.

France’s sports ministry is now singing the same tune as the New York general assembly in regards to why the UFC’s attitude toward women translates to a ban on MMA.

According to ESPN, Carole Bretteville, the president of the Women’s Committee for Federation Francaisedu Sport d’Entreprise, took issue with the way the UFC was pushing for the country to make MMA legal. Bretteville’s recent statement on the issue seems to indicate agreement with the Culinary Union’s UFC manifesto:

“France works very hard to promote equality in all aspects of life, especially in sports. I was appalled to find out how UFC was lobbying in France, especially when UNITE HERE informed me how UFC has tolerated derogatory statements and attitudes against women. We cannot allow such an organization to destroy all the work we have done to promote equality through French sports. I applaud the Minister’s courage to reject free fighting in France.”

Unite Here is the Culinary Union’s parent company, headquartered in New York City. The union also has international operatives, and they recently applauded France’s decision with a press release including remarks from European development director Blake Harwell:

“We were not surprised. European attitudes toward such bloody displays date back centuries. Add in the anti-social issues and I’d say Zuffa and the IMMAF have a long way to go to make MMA palatable. No matter what name they call it, cage fighting still fails to meet European expectations for what counts as sport.”

MMA regulation should hinge on the safety of the sport and the entire spectrum of participants rather than on a few bad apples associated with it and the fact that fighters sometimes bleed during fights. France is known for letting others fight their battles, and their sports ministry flat out swallowed the Culinary Union’s bait hook, line and sinker.

The next time they decide to look at regulating MMA within their borders, they should base their decision on their own research of the undisputed facts, instead of listening to a biased outfit with a huge ax to grind.

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