Previous to the foundation of the EDSO in 1983 there were already European Championships of the Deaf since 1967. At this time they were still under the auspices of the Comité International des Sports (CISS), the World Federation of Deaf Sports. However, since their task was the promotion of deaf sports world-wide, they were not able to organise European Championships on a regular basis. Countries which applied with the CISS for the organisation of a European Championship did get the authorisation without any problems. There were times in which there were 6 – 10 European Championships within on year. However, the European Countries were not able to finance this.
For this reason the countries Belgium, Netherlands, France and Germany took the initiative to found a European Deaf Sport Federation which had the task to provide orderly and regular European Championships. For this reason the delegates of the 4 countries met a few times to determine the shape and the programme of a European Deaf Sport Federation. A preparatory committee was founded with the following members: Karl Kunze (GER), Joseph Wermuth (FRA), Hendrik J. de Haas (NED), Roland Haythornthwaite (GBR) and Boudewijn de Roose (BEL).
The foundation assembly was to take place in Madonna di Campiglio (ITA). However, the CISS regarded the foundation as a rival organisation and influenced the Eastern Bloc not to join the European Deaf Federation. In 1981 the second major meeting of the European Deaf Sport Associations took place in which the tasks and aims of a European Deaf Sport Federation could be defined concretely. it was not before 7 July 1983 in Antibes/FRA that the organisation was officially founded and was given the name “European Deaf Sport Organization”. The first President was Hendrik J. de Haas (NED), Vice Presidents were Karl Kunze (GER) and Joseph Wermuth (FRA), General Secretary Roland Haythornthwaite (BGR) and Member of Presidential Board Boudewijn de Roose (BEL). 9 countries were present at the foundation. Each European country which is a member of the CISS is automatically member of the EDSO and has the right to participate in all European Championships of the EDSO.
Since 1983 5-7 European Championships have been taking place every year. Venues and times are already determined until the year 2004. This ensures a systematic planning with financial security. Since 1983 there have been regular European Championships every four years in each of the 17 sports. It was taken care of that in the year of the World Games of the Deaf (organised by the CISS) no European Championships take place because all countries are concentrating their preparations on the participation in the World Games. These World Games (Summer and Winter) can compared to the Olympic Games of the hearing.
40 countries with 50.000 athletes in 1.000 Deaf Sports Clubs are members of the EDSO. Apart from European Championships qualification matches have to be carried out in football, basketball (woman and men) and volleyball (woman and men) preliminary to the respective European Championships, since only 12 teams are able to participate in order to observe financial and time frames. A fixed number of the qualified teams are at the same time qualified for the participation in the World Games.
In 1995 the co-founder and 1st President of the EDSO, Hendrik J. de Haas died unexpectedly during his work as EDSO-Official at the 3rd European Football Championship. At present the EDSO-Executive Committee consists of the following members: Lennart Edwall (SWE, Member since 1988, President since 1996), Sebastiano Manciagli (ITA, Member since 1987, Vice-President since 1994), Werner H. Kliewer (GER, Secretary General since 1987), Argyris Fotiou (GRE, since 1990, Treasurer since 1996), Bélá Pányi (HUN, since 1990), Valerie Rukhledev (RUS, from 1987-1990 and since 1996), Mieczyslaw Grajek (POL, since 1998) and Wassyl Sandugei (UKR, since 1998).
At the 9th EDSO-Congress in Vilinius/LTU 1998 the range of sports was expanded to ice hockey, indoor athletics and indoor football so that at present within the EDSO European Championships are organised in 20 different sports. 2 officials of the EDSO-Executive Committee have the responsibility for the organisational management, while the EDSO-Technical Delegates are responsible for the technical proceedings.
(Please note, the text was written in 1998)