A failed rebellion
Yet any keen observer of Olympic politics knows that GAISF has been a stone in Thomas Bach’s shoe since 2015.
At that time, the GAISF had taken the more modern name of SportAccord after its annual convention. After just two years in office, SportAccord President Marius Vizer launched a rebellion against Bach and the IOC at the opening of the convention in Sochi.
“The IOC system is expired, outdated, flawed, unfair and not at all transparent,” Vizer said.
“The Olympic Games belong to all of us and we need real reform.”
The rebellion has already largely failed by the next coffee break. Many Olympic federations immediately suspended their membership. Vizer had overestimated his influence.
Within weeks, Vizer lost his chairmanship of SportAccord, the number of Sport Accord employees was drastically reduced to a handful, and the organization had to drop its name and revert to its original, anonymous acronym.
The empire had retaliated. For IOC President Bach, this incident was a final warning: never again should a GAISF President have so much influence to be able to challenge the IOC.
Seven years later, GAISF is on the verge of disbanding – and that basically sends the message: there can only be one leader in the Olympic world.
And Ferriani basically confirmed what was going on at the Council recently when he reported on a phone call with Vizer and said
Vizer “was the start of that in 2015”.
For ages, we had talked about three pillars of the world sports system: the IOC, the GAISF representing the international federations and the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC).
The IOC Presidents have always been the most dominant and powerful people, but they have sometimes had to balance their interests with the equally influential and quite powerful Presidents of GAISF and ANOC.
This balance did not only have its dark sides, such as the usual corruption in the industry, vote-trading and the prevailing lack of transparency. It also reflected the interest of many stakeholders, be it federations or NOCs, and there was a lot to negotiate and balance.
This has ceased to be the case in recent years.
There is not just one leader, there is basically only one decisive institution: the IOC.
In theory, sports federations and NOCs still have a voice and are among the so-called pillars of the movement. In practice, however, they all take control from IOC headquarters. After the dissolution of the GAISF, there are signs that the ANOC will also be dissolved. This could very soon be the next step – it is quite possible that only the continental associations of NOCs will continue to exist.
Fear of not reaching a two-thirds majority
Next stop Lausanne, end of November 2022:
The decisive days begin with the board meetings of the umbrella organizations and the so-called IF Forum on November 28. Everything has been thought of:
“President Bach will be present at the opening ceremony on the 28th,” the GAISF Council was told:
“We are independent, but it is very important to have a good relationship with the IOC.”
When the vote on the dissolution of GAISF takes place the next day, November 29, at the GAISF General Assembly at the Swisstech Convention Center, a two-thirds majority is required, and the GAISF Board fears that this objective is not missed. .
Because at the General Assembly, the Olympic federations will be in the minority. The non-Olympic federations have a clear majority.
At a GAISF Council meeting, Stephan Fox warned his colleagues: “If our members slap us hard, it’s a big defeat for all of us here on the Council.
He also spoke of the “greatest fear” that disgruntled GAISF members could form rival organisations. In the event of defeat, GAISF President Ivo Ferriani announced internally within the Council that the Olympic federations would break up and leave on their own.
This threat is also unknown to the majority of GAISF members.
Ferriani, president of the Olympic Winter Sports Federations (AIOWF), agrees with fellow Italian Francesco Ricci Bitti, president of the Olympic Summer Sports Federations (ASOIF) and member of the SportAccord executive committee.
Ferriani told counsel and counsel:
“If we lose, I will go to SportAccord [together] with summer federations and power. It will be a bad learning curve.”
A bad apprenticeship, yes, especially for the small non-Olympic federations, which Ferriani obviously does not care about. He represents other interests. And he has his henchmen, for example Chiulli and Fox, who must obtain votes and majorities in the non-Olympic sector.
“We have to think of the big, the church, but not the small chapel,” Ferriani told the Council.
“Change or be changed. Crucial times.”
Mr. Ferriani did not answer a list of about ten questions.
But this week, at a conference in Glasgow, Ivo Ferriani expressed his dream of seeing warmonger Vladimir Putin join Joe Biden and Xi Jinping in attending one of the upcoming SportAccord conventions.
The whole process is most curious. No one has presented clear, convincing and arguably verifiable justifications for the dissolution of GAISF.
Theoretically, GAISF could be a perfect umbrella organization in which sports also compete with the aim of rising in the internal rankings and within the various sports groups according to transparent criteria – and eventually becoming an Olympic sport.
Such a system of promotion and relegation like the sports world has at all levels would in fact be the perfect model. GAISF could be the ideal sports league. Many smaller sports, some of which are more widespread around the world than traditional Olympic sports, have been calling for a transparent and fair system for many years. But they don’t fight for it loudly and forcefully because they are afraid of the superior CIO.
Essential Olympic Program
Yet the IOC and the privileged Olympic federations have never been interested in such clarity and transparency, as the history of the Olympic program convincingly proves – with the absurd decisions of the IOC sessions in 2002 in Mexico and in 2005 in Singapore, when attempts by then IOC President Jacques Rogge to permanently alter the Olympic program were rejected.
It failed due to resistance from Olympic associations and their lobbyists within the IOC. The best in the Olympic program, most of whom can only survive on the Olympic millions, realized early on that not much could happen to them if they stuck together and voted for each other – or at least organized the votes of the IOC.
And the majority of sports federations on the planet, some more modern and more widespread than Olympic sports, remain in second place – and do not even come close to the Olympic floats.
Only the summer and winter Olympic federations continue to be funded by the IOC – all the others are occasional guests at the table and go almost empty-handed financially.
Permanent guests of the Olympic program may also receive funding from public authorities at the national level, precisely because they are part of the Olympic Games.
This is how the Olympic system mainly finances itself. Those who are not part of the Olympic program have a harder time receiving public funding from governments around the world.
Dissolution, not merger
At the GAISF Council, Ferriani left the impression that he had his decisions endorsed at the IOC headquarters. In terms of content, most GAISF member federations seem overwhelmed with the legal details and the sporting political consequences of the decision they make.
Many only understand the matter of money. And there, the management of GAISF, with the help of lawyers Jean-Pierre Morand and Vincent Jäggi from the Lausanne law firm “Kellerhals Carrard” (a law firm deeply rooted in the Olympic movement, almost like a monopoly ), found a perhaps decisive twist:
This is the distribution of the remaining balance in the GAISF accounts, apparently around CHF 5 million (same amount in euros/US dollars) – plus CHF 2.5 million than Saudi Arabia, host of the next Combat Games, has already transferred.
To seize this money and distribute it between the umbrella organizations (ASOIF, AIOWF, ARISF, AIMS), the GAISF must imperatively be dissolved and must not merge with its SportAccord business arm.
That’s what the lawyers said, and that’s what the federations were told.
Ferriani barely understood it himself until the end and always talked about fusion.
Then the lawyer Morand explained to him:
“It’s a bit dangerous to use the word. If you merged, all the assets would go directly to SportAccord,” lawyer Morand said. But this should be avoided as the GAISF millions have to be split between the apex organisations.
“We are dissolving GAISF and transferring the activities to SportAccord,” explained Morand:
“If they vote to dissolve, the umbrella organizations will receive a substantial amount. If they don’t, those assets will be frozen at the GAISF level.”
The “negative scenario and consequences” according to the lawyer: “It is clear that the GAISF will put on ice…The assets are put on ice…the stakeholders will not receive the distribution of the assets. “
If it is decided to dissolve GAISF, another meeting will be held immediately afterwards to redistribute the assets.
The little athletes ready to lose
So you entice umbrella organizations with money to vote to dissolve GAISF. For the relatively wealthy Olympic federations, it’s not a lot – but for the small non-Olympic federations, it’s a lot.
Stakeholder groups argued for months over the distribution key of around 7 million francs. When the convocations for the General Assembly at the end of November were sent out in October, just in time and in compliance with the statutes, Ivo Ferriani once again showed his special class. He had made the process a boss thing – but had to send out invitations twice.
In the first prompt, it mentioned an incorrect distribution key. According to this document, ASOIF was to receive 40% of the money, AIOWF, ARISF and AIMS 20% each.
The outcry was great among officials, and Ferriani sent a second letter with an apology: “There was an error in the communication of the proposed percentages for the distribution of the remaining assets.”
Now there was the right data: 42% ASOIF, 18% for AIOWF, 30% for ARISF and 10% for AIMS.
As Ivo Ferriani told the Council recently:
“I’m not a genius, but I try my best. I come here to solve the problem.”
The problem for whom? Probably for Ferriani’s boss, Thomas Bach, who expects a solution on November 29.