International University Sports Federation

The Fédération Internationale du Sport Universitaire (FISU, English: International University Sports Federation) is responsible for the organisation and governance of worldwide sports 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 174[2] member associations (National University Sport Federations) from five continents. Between 1949 and 2011, it was based in Brussels (Belgium); since 2011, it is based in Lausanne (Switzerland).

International University
Sports Federation
Fédération Internationale du
Sport Universitaire
FISU logo 2020.png
Motto"Today's Stars, Tomorrow's Leaders"
"Excellence in Mind and Body"
Formation1 January 1949; 71 years ago (1949-01-01)
TypeSports federation
HeadquartersLausanne, Switzerland[1]
170 member associations
Official language
French and English
Oleg Matytsin (Russia)
Leonz Eder (Switzerland) (1st VP),
Liguo Yang (China)
Luciano Cabral (Brazil)
Marian Dymalski (Poland)
Leopold Senghor (Senegal)

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 34 [3] 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.[4]

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".[5]


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.

The peace was relative, and the shadow of the Cold War soon divided university sport. In 1946, the International Students Union (ISU) was created in Prague to pursue the works of the International Confederation of Students, and it organised the 9th World University Games in 1947. After those games, the increasing politicisation of the ISU led to a division within the university sports movement. In 1948, the International University Sports Federation (FISU) was created under the impetus of Paul Schleimer of Luxembourg, and it launched the International University Sport Weeks in 1949 in Meran, Italy. Other editions followed: in Luxembourg (1951), Dortmund (1953) and San Sebastián (1955). In 1957, the French federation organised a World University Sports Championship which brought together students from the Eastern and Western blocks. From this meet arose the desire to organise 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 organised in Turin, Italy, by CUSI, the Italian Student Sports Association. That year was undoubtedly the one that left the biggest impression on our federation. In fact, the Italian organisers baptised these 1959 games 'Universiade'. They created the flag with a 'U' surrounded by stars, which was to begin its journey around the world, and replaced the national anthems at the medal-awarding ceremonies with Gaudeamus Igitur. The Universiade in Turin was a success for the local Executive Committee, as well as for the man who was to change the future of the university sports movement: Dr. Primo Nebiolo. During this Universiade, which brought together 43 countries and 1,400 participants, many non-member federations applied to become members of FISU.

However, even though university sport was developing in a peaceful environment, the modus vivendi still needed to be established. In addition to the agreement that had been made concerning national symbols (neither flags nor anthems) and the programme, FISU defined 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 organise the games at worldwide level.[6]

Ever since this important period, the Universiades have continued to attract more and more participants. Starting with a total of 1,407 participants in Turin, Italy, in 1959, FISU reached a total of 6,757 participants from more than 165 countries in Beijing, China, in 2001, and 6,643 participants from 174 countries in Daegu, Korea, in 2003. The highest number of participants was registered at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia, i.e. 11,759 representing 159 countries.

The Winter Universiades have experienced the same success. In fact, statistics show that 98 athletes participated in the games in Zell am See, Austria, in 1958, while a record of 2,668 participants from 52 countries came to the Winter Universiade in Trentino, Italy, in 2013. The expansion of university sport around the world created a new need for meets and competitions to complete the Universiade programme. As a consequence, FISU launched the World University Championships (WUC) in the early sixties.

Over 50 years, more than 300 championships have been organised, covering a large range of events (almost always different from the Universiade sports) and gathering participants from all over the world. Meant to guarantee continuity in the competition programme, these championships take place on even-numbered years and experience an increasing success over the years. They allow a large number of students and university sports leaders to get together on occasions other than Universiades. In 2000, 20 World University Championships were held in different places for different sports, attracting 3,623 participants. In 2002, 24 World University Championships were held, attracting 4,228 participants from 83 countries. In 2010, 27 championships were staged, bringing together 4,431 participants. For 2014, 29 WUC were attributed.

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

Starting early March and running until mid-December, the 2014 World University Championships included 28 events in a single year, this time in 23 countries and over the 5 continents (17 Europe, 7 Asia, 2 America, 1 Africa and 1 Oceania). The Championships took place for the first time in Belarus, India, Kazakhstan, Malaysia and Singapore.

The most recent edition of the Summer Universiade was held in Naples, Italy, in the Summer 2019. Meanwhile, the most recent Winter Universiade was held in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. The 2021 edition of the Summer Universiade will be organised in Chengdu, China, while the 2021 Winter Universiade's host will be Lucerne, Switzerland.


FISU is composed of a General Assembly which represents the members (174 National University Sports Federations) and is FISU's main governing body. This group 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 FISU President is currently Oleg Matytsin. He was elected for the period from 2015 until 2019 and succeeds Claude-Louis Gallien.[7] The FISU Secretary-General and CEO is Eric Saintrond.[8] FISU's First Vice-President is Leonz Eder.[9]

The other FISU Vice-Presidents[9] are: Luciano Cabral, Marian Dymalski, Leopold Senghor, and Liguo Yang.

FISU Presidents:

  • 1949 – 1961 – Paul SCHLEIMER. FISU was created thanks to the enthusiasm of the Luxembourgian physicist and mathematician Paul Schleimer.
  • 1961 – 1999 – Primo NEBIOLO, who was an ardent supporter of the development of international university sports movement and the University Games development.
  • 1999 – 2011 – George E. KILLIAN, American sports administrator and basketball coach, carried the torch from Primo Nebiolo. He was elected for a second full term in 2007.
  • 2011- 2015 – Claude–Louis GALLIEN, vice-president of French Olympic Committee and first vice-president under Nebiolo and Killian, was appointed Expert of the Commission for Culture and Olympic Education of the International Olympic Committee in 2014.
  • Since November 2015 – Oleg MATYTSIN, in-office president, is a Russian Professor and Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences. He is also Honorary President of the Russian Students Sport Union.


The General Assembly Every two years the General Assembly brings together the national university sports organisations which are FISU members (167), and it elects the Executive Committee and the auditor for a four-year period. It adopts the budget and the programme of FISU activities.

The Executive Committee' The Executive Committee is composed of 23 members. It meets twice a year to take the decisions necessary for the proper functioning of FISU. The Steering Committee consists of the President, the first Vice-President, the four Vice-Presidents, the Secretary General, the Treasurer and the first Assessor. It meets periodically when convened by the President, to carry out the business of FISU between meetings of the Executive Committee.

FISU Office The General Secretariat is in charge of FISU's administrative work and it is based at the ‘Synathlon’ in the Campus of University of Lausanne, Switzerland, a unique complex that brings together under one roof several of the leading players in international sports administration. This new infrastructure constitutes a remarkable opportunity for FISU, allowing to work together, cultivate contacts, share experience and exploit synergies.

The Committees The committees assist and advise the Executive Committee in the overall administration of FISU. There are 16 permanent committees:

  1. International Technical Committees – CTI: one for the Summer Universiade, one for the Winter Universiade and one for the World University Championships; monitors the preparation of competitions from a technical point of view, drawing up the competition programme and ensuring the good running of the event.
  2. Committee for Sports Regulations – CRS: ensures that the sports regulations are updated and proposes new rules to the EC.
  3. Medical Committee – CM: supervises the organisation of medical care, as well as the norms of security and hygiene; supervises the anti-doping control procedures.
  4. International Control Committee – CIC: verifies that the participants fulfill the conditions of participation.
  5. Education Committee – EduC: promotes the study of university sport by organising the Conference during the Universiade, as well as the FISU Forum.
  6. Media and Communication Committee – CMC: inspects and controls all the infrastructures and technical means provided to the press; cooperates with international media to ensure media coverage of FISU events.
  7. Universiade Supervision Committee (Summer) – CSU: responsible for supervising the progress made in the preparation of the Summer Universiades, by making inspection visits and meeting regularly with the leaders of the Organising Committees.
  8. Universiade Supervision Committee (Winter) – CSU: responsible for supervising the progress made in the preparation of the Winter Universiades, by making inspection visits and meeting regularly with the leaders of the Organising Committees.
  9. Finance Committee – CF: studies the budget plan with the Treasurer.
  10. Committee for the Development of University Sport – CDSU: responsible for studying all the projects aiming at developing the structures of FISU and its member associations.
  11. Committee for Gender Equality – CEG: responsible for studying all the projects aiming at developing women's sport within FISU and its member associations.
  12. Legal Committee – CJ: advises the EC on all legal matters related to FISU activities.
  13. Intercontinental Council – CI: assesses the specific needs to encourage, support and enhance university sport in each continent.
  14. Student Committee – CdE: represents the student athletes and student managers involved in university sports organisations.
  15. Committee for Marketing and Strategic Partnership – CMPS: assists FISU in developing a better understanding of modern technology and the huge potential for university sport stakeholders to forge global and national partnerships from within the sports movement and beyond.
  16. Disciplinary Committee – CD: preserves the integrity and reputation of FISU and FISU events, and contributes to ensure the security of the FISU student athletes.

The Internal Auditor The Auditor verifies FISU accountancy.[10]

Brand and EmblemEdit

The “U” is a powerful letter and it stands for university, our key field of activity,. This U also stands for you, us, union, and universality, mirroring FISU's commitment to inclusivity. We call it the “Dynamic U”. The emblem embodies the passion that empowers to overcome obstacles, go beyond limits and cross boundaries, in both sport and life.

The main colours of the emblem symbolise the universally of the sports world and have been a part of FISU's visual identity since our founding in 1949. The mixed gradient represents our dedication to diversity, equality, innovation, and the joy of sport while creating and supporting the university sports community across the world.

As the official International University Sports Federation emblem, this logo is used on all official communication related to FISU's activities and events.

The FISU flag includes the logo of FISU centred on a white background.

International University Sports Federation

The first official FISU logo was inspired by the 'U' of 'University', and was accompanied by five stars that symbolise the five continents. The original logo was created by the CUSI (Italian University Sports Centre) during the first Summer Universiade in 1959, and symbolised FISU from from that date until 2020 .


The Gaudeamus Igitur is the official anthem of FISU. It is a popular academic commercium song in many Western countries, mainly sung or performed at university graduation ceremonies. Despite its use as a formal graduation hymn, it is a jocular, light-hearted composition that pokes fun at university life.[11]

  1. Gaudeamus igitur, juvenes dum sumus (bis) Post jucundam juventutem Post molestam senectutem Nos habebit humus (bis).
  2. Ubi sunt qui ante nos, in mundo fuere (bis) Vadite ad superos, Transite ad inferos, Ubi iam fuere (bis).
  3. Vita nostra brevis est brevi finietur (bis) Venit mors velociter, Rapit nos atrociter, Nemini parcetur (bis).
  4. Vivat Acedémia, vivant Professores (bis) Vivat membrum quodlibet, Vivant membra quaelibet, Semper sint in flore (bis)!
  5. Vivant omnes virgines, faciles, formosae (bis) Vivant et mulieres, Tenerae, amabiles, Bonae, laboriosae (bis)!
  6. Vivat et respublica et qui illam regit (bis) Vivat nostra civitas, Maecenatum caritas, Quae nos hic protegit (bis).
  7. Pereat tristitia, pereant osores (bis) Pereat diabolus, Patriae maledictus, Nec non irrisores (bis).

Events and sportsEdit

Summer UniversiadeEdit

The Universiade is an international sporting and cultural festival which is staged every two years in a different city. It is only second to the Olympic Games. The Summer Universiade consists of 11 compulsory sports with 14 compulsory disciplines and up to three optional sports chosen by the host country. The record figures are 10,622 participants in Shenzhen, China, in 2011 and 174 countries in Daegu, Korea, in 2003.

The Summer Universiade is the only summer multi-sport event in the world that connects students at both academic and athletic levels. During 12 days of sports competitions more than 9,000 student-athletes and officials from over 170 countries participate in the different events. Both volunteers and participants are students, generally of the same age.

The programme of the Summer Universiade currently includes 12 compulsory sports (15 compulsory disciplines):[12]

Additionally, one to three optional sports are chosen by the host country.

As of 2019 the list of compulsory sports will be expanded with archery included into the sports programme, as well as badminton in 2021. Optional sports vary from one Summer Universiade to another. Depending on their own interests, Organising Committees may choose from the list of the World University Championships (WUC) up to 3 optional sports to be included in their specific sports programme. For the most recent Universiades in Shenzhen (CHN), Kazan (RUS) and Gwangju (KOR) the total number of sports has reached a peak with 24, 27 and 21 sports featured respectively. In Taipei were 21 again. In order to reduce the scale of the Universiade and more easily find future candidate cities, FISU prefers that the number of optional sports return to the number of 3.[13]

Winter UniversiadeEdit

The Winter Universiade is an international sporting and cultural festival which is staged every two years in a different city. It is only second to the Olympic Games and the biggest global winter multi-sports event for student-athletes. The programme of the Winter Universiade currently includes six compulsory sports (eight compulsory disciplines) and up to three optional sports chosen by the host country. It gathered a record of 2,668 participants in Trentino, Italy, in 2013 and a record number of 52 countries in Erzurum, Turkey, in 2011.

During 11 days of sports competitions more than 2,500 participants from more than 50 countries take part in the Winter Universiade. Additionally, 1,500 to 3,000 volunteers are present. The Winter Universiade is broadcast by more than 100 TV channels around the World.[14]

The programme of the Winter Universiade currently includes 6 compulsory sports (8 compulsory disciplines):[12]

Additionally, one to four optional sports are chosen by the host country.[14]

World University ChampionshipsEdit

While the Universiades are held in odd years, the university world championships are held in even years.Besides that,13 sports are in the process of recognition and 2 have special status.

In order to be as complete as possible, it includes:

  • Individual/ team sports
  • Indoor/ outdoor sports
  • Combat sports
  • Mind sports
  • Summer/ winter sports.[15]

Educational programmeEdit

Besides its sporting events, FISU stages educational events and manages education-related programmes under the supervision of the Education Committee (EduC), with an aim to encourage the study and enhancement of university sport through education.[16]


The FISU Summer Universiade Conference Along with the Summer Universiade, FISU organises, every two years, the FISU Summer Universiade Conference.

The FISU Summer Universiade Conference is a key FISU event as it allows many of the student-athletes who compete in the Universiade to take part in an international academic conference. It fosters the academic spirit in the sports arena. The FISU Summer Universiade Conference is open to all accredited participants of the Universiade.[17]

The FISU Winter Universiade Conference Along with the Winter Universiade, FISU provides the organising committee with the opportunity to host a scientific conference. It is an opportunity for the young generation of sport scientists to discuss new ideas or to arrange projects/cooperative efforts in the area of sports science.[18]

The FISU Forum Like the Universiade, the Conference is biennial. This is why FISU decided to give students and university sports officials the opportunity to meet more often to discuss subjects involving education, culture and sport, through the FISU Forum. The Forum takes place every two years, alternating with the Universiade years, each time in a different location.[19]

The FISU Sport Education Summit The FISU Sport Education Summit gathers university rectors from around the world during two days to discuss the place of sport within higher education systems. The main aims of this event are to exchange ideas regarding the development of university sport and to understand the way university sport is organised in the different parts of the world.[20]

The FISU Seminars Seminars are divided into two types: one for the future event organisers and one for the newly nominated members of the FISU Family.[21]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ 1949–2011: Brussels (Belgium). Since 2011: Lausanne (Switzerland).
  2. ^ "Current structure". Retrieved 2018-03-07.
  3. ^ "World University Championships". Retrieved 2018-03-07.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ World University Team Cup Archived 2011-10-27 at the Wayback Machine. World Bridge Federation. 5th World University Bridge Championship Archived 2011-08-13 at the Wayback Machine Event website (2010). Chinese Taipei University Sports Federation. Retrieved 2011-08-12.
  6. ^ FISU Statutes Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  7. ^ 34th General Assembly in Lausanne elects New Board. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  8. ^ "FISU today". Retrieved 2018-03-07.
  9. ^ a b "Executive Committee". Retrieved 2018-03-07.
  10. ^ Current structure. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  11. ^ FISU Anthem. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  12. ^ a b Sports. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  13. ^ Summer Universiade. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  14. ^ a b Winter Universiade. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  15. ^ "World University Championships".
  16. ^ Educational Services. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  17. ^ "Educational Services The FISU Summer Universiade Conference". Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  18. ^ "Educational Services The FISU Winter Universiade Conference". Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  19. ^ "The FISU Forum". Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  20. ^ "Educational Services The FISU Sport Education Summit". Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  21. ^ "Educational Services The FISU Seminar". Retrieved 19 January 2016.