News 22 May 2015

Federations suspend SportAccord membership over its IOC criticism

Numerous international sporting federations yesterday suspended ties with SportAccord, after its President Marius Vizer issued a 20-point reform plan to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach. The Fédération Equestre International (FEI) followed a World Rugby decision to suspend SportAccord membership following the issue of Vizer’s plan. The international federations for curling and table tennis are also understood to have withdrawn their SportAccord membership.

Vizer’s plan included introduction of prize money for athletes competing at the Olympic Games; an increase in revenue sharing to 25% of Olympic Games revenue to go to international federations; complete independence of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS); ensuring that any Olympic TV channel established by the IOC will be 50% owned by the international federations; and more. It follows his 20 April opening address at the SportAccord Convention World Sport and Business Summit, where he criticised the IOC for failing to enter into dialogue to reform sport. “After becoming SportAccord President, I always tried to develop a constructive collaboration with the IOC and with President Bach”, said Vizer in his address. “A collaboration based on respect towards the Olympic Movement, its members and the values in which I believe. Unfortunately, it never became reality. I made a number of proposals in favour and for the benefit of IFs and SportAccord, but we have never received a positive reaction.”

Vizer also criticised the IOC’s Agenda 2020 programme for not properly addressing the concerns of the international sporting federations that SportAccord represents. He specifically singled out recommendation nine – which limits accreditation for the Olympic programme – and recommendation 10 – which suggests reviewing the Olympic programme based on events rather than sports. “Recommendation 9 and 10 of Agenda 2020 lead to a destabilising of the Olympic sports”, he said. “We must protect the Olympic sports and disciplines currently in the Olympic programme and at the same time we must encourage and support the new sports and disciplines who want to join”. Vizer said that the IOC system “is expired, outdated, wrong, unfair and not at all transparent”.

Following the address, the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) decided last month that SportAccord that it will no longer represent its 28 international federations. The Association of International Olympic Winter Federations (AIOWF), which represents seven international federations, has expressed disagreement with Vizer’s position, but called for dialogue with SportAccord rather than withdrawal.

SportAccord was initially a brand name given to the 2003 annual conference of the General Association of International Sporting Federations (GAISF), where international sporting federations met with broadcasters and sponsors interested in becoming involved with their sporting events. In 2009, due to the success of the conference, the GAISF adopted the SportAccord brand name. SportAccord currently has 92 international sporting federation members and 17 associate members (organisations such as the Commonwealth Games Federation).

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