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Posts Tagged ‘gazprom’

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CLEAN REPORT

While the world mopes around in a Trumped-up daze, we remind you that there’s another election coming up on Sunday – one you can do something about.  Our 2016 World Sailing Annual Conference coverage ain’t worth a shit if you guys don’t care about the sport’s future.  We’re here to provide you with on-the-ground info so you can engage with the executives in your MNA and advocate that they do what’s good for the sport – not what’s good for them, and while we’ll get into more about what’s actually happening at this conference in a few days, governance is what matters right now.

Every MNA has reps on the ground – for our US readers, both USS Exec. Dir. Jack Gierhardt and Pres. Bruce Burton are here.  If you don’t know how they are going to vote, get in touch with them and find out.  Just two more days to go, and if your representatives haven’t listened to challenger Kim Andersen or Paul Henderson’s podcasts on governance and the future of ISAF, they are not doing their jobs.  Listen yourself, and in case you’ve forgotten just why we are so down on Carlo Croce, here’s a (partial) list of what happened on his watch:

1) Malaysia discriminates against Jewish children at ISAF Youth Worlds (known issue from 2011, nothing done until outrage peaks)/Oman discriminates against Israeli windsurfers/Abu Dhabi discriminates against Israeli sailors

2) Millions spent defending multiple litigation for human rights and employment violations (America’s Cup)

3) Third “Disciplinary Code” in three years (thanks to litigation and arbitration)

4) Third CEO in two years

5) Complete mishandling of Rio disease/filth publicity and media shitstorm

6) First ‘sustainability partner’ named as Gazprom, 3-year blackout on all information regarding millions in sponsorship income (until a week ago)

7) ISAF claims control over kiteboarding and starts war with IFKO (against backdrop of russian mob connection allegations)

8) Sailing World Cup fails to attract audience for four straight years

9) Sailing booted from the Paralympics

10) kiteboarding added to Olympics, then removed from Olympics days later.

11) President’s conflicts of interests (Italian sailing federation president, yacht club president) create appearance of impropriety

Spin Dottore

Both challengers for the World Sailing presidency provided long, honest interviews with us (see links above) about their plans for the future of the governing body of the sport, but current President Carlo Croce didn’t even bother to respond to our request for an interview; in fact, Croce has never answered questions from the media or sat for a press conference other than some bullshit prepared statements read over a video conference call and a few photo opps. The World Sailing President is so terrified of speaking that even after listening to both podcasts, he couldn’t bring himself to do it; instead, he prepared a detailed document to address some of the issues brought up by the other nominees, firing it off to all the MNAs and calling the other two candidates liars while lamenting the “misinformation perpetuated by certain individuals and the media.”

Croce also promises that he sets “the highest standards of transparency and integrity in the way that we operate as an International Federation”, never even recognizing the irony that only now – at the end of his four year term and with his feet to the fire – does he address the Gazprom money and the IKA/IFKO mess that we, and numerous other interested parties – have been asking about for years.  “Highest standards,” indeed.

The document itself is worth reading as a lesson in selective denial, but we note how sneaky some of it is; in response to claims from many parties that World Sailing has had for several years a secret ‘slush fund’ for corporate money in Switzerland, Croce writes that it doesn’t even exist. “The process to establish the Swiss Foundation commenced in April 2016. The Foundation is still not formally established (20/10/16) as it has not yet been approved by the Survey for International Foundations in Switzerland. Until that authorisation is issued the foundation does not yet exist.  So according to Croce, it takes more than half a year to set up a charitable foundation in Switzerland…never mind that we’ve seen an email from W. Scott Perry back in September (one of the directors of ISAF and the guy who made the Gazprom deal) where he wrote “The Swiss Foundation which was established at the behest of Gazprom has 6 directors…none of them are paid in any way.  I am one of those directors.” Integrity, indeed (and for more on this issue, see the Associated Press story here).

So is it a slush fund? Croce says that the “purpose of the Foundation is to raise funds from corporate donors to support the development of sailing” but assures us that “there is no formal relationship and none is planned between WS and the Foundation”.  So who will be on the board of the new Foundation?  Out of 7 directors, 5 are currently vice presidents or presidents of World Sailing.  No formal relationship, indeed.

But at least there’s no sketchy Gazprom control of these slush funds, right?  Nope.  “There is no relationship between the Foundation and Gazprom other than a former Executive of Gazprom (Valery Gulev) is one of the Directors of the Foundation.” Transparency, indeed.

He even tries to address concerns that Gazprom’s connection to World Sailing may harm some of the many relationships between sailing and truly ‘green’ companies with this posed question on Page 7: “What are the Gazprom marketing rights?” One problem: the document contains no answer to this question.  Transparent?  Definitely not.  Competent?

Read the full Croce document here.

 

November 10th, 2016 by admin

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While the sailing world continues to gab about the on-water Greenpeace protest of the Gazprom-sponsored 100 foot Reichel-Pugh Esimit Europa in last weekend’s Barcolana, facts continue to roll in.  Most interestingly, the Jochen Schumann-skippered enviro-disaster just broke the top 5 meters of her rig off during at attempt on the Trieste-Malta record (apparently, someone keeps track of this shit).  As of this morning they still were unable to get the mainsail released, and they have now pulled out of next week’s Rolex Middle Sea Race, where they took line honors for the last three years.

Is karma catching up to the boat sponsored by one of today’s great enviro-villains?  The more we look, the nastier Gazprom appears, and not just for their part in the Russian special ops-team arrest of 30 protestors in the Arctic.

Exhibit 1:  After Belgian racing website ClubRacer ran an editorial wondering about the propriety of Gazprom’s title sponsorship of the newly ISAF-ized Swan 60 Class, they were allegedly contacted by Europol and threatened by other parties to stop criticizing the gas giant.  They also say multiple attempts to hack their website began the same week.  We love ClubRacer’s response to what is fairly typical thuggery from a major corporation; they write “We will not stop criticizing until a decapitated horse’s head is found in our bed.”

Exhibit 2: Somehow, the Gazprom Swan 60 Class held a World Championship this year, being named an ISAF International Class.  That’s a 5-boat World Championship, for those of you counting.  Remember when ISAF actually required a Class to have a substantial international makeup before being granted the right to hold a World Championship?  Apparently, they no longer give a shit about what that means, or maybe that gassy money is more than sufficient to keep them from caring?  Does ISAF think the Gazprom Swan 60 World Championship fleet fulfills everything about a Worlds they’ve fought so hard to define?  We don’t know that, but we do know that something smells pretty awful, and it ain’t natural gas.

Exhibit 3:  Unlike the Esimit Europa project, which only races their maxi at events where she is guaranteed line honors,the aforementioned title sponsorship of the Gazprom Swan 60 Class puts the world’s biggest natural gas producer in the limelight at some of Europe’s biggest regattas.     Given the nearly universal effort by sailing’s stakeholders — events, teams, classes, manufacturers, National Associations, sponsorship seekers — to associate the sport with clean energy and green growth, this could force a huge step backwards for the sport’s image.  The logo is burning gas, for chrissakes!  Does ISAF and the pile of major regattas they have scheduled really want to see all that work ruined by associating the top level of sailing with a company with this kind of enironmental and human rights record?    Maybe if they get another big check…

Exhibit 4: Persistent rumors say Gazprom is on the verge of funding an America’s Cup team.  It would be a drop in the bucket for a company that supplies half the world with fuel, and sources say either Igor Simcic (the head of the Esimit program) or Vladimir Liubomirov (recently entered in the RC-44 circuit) would run the program.  In either case, can you imagine the protests when the Gazprom foiler comes to San Francisco?  While we appreciate irony as much as anyone, no one looking out for the Cup, the sponsors, or the sport wants to see the Gazprom flame logo flying right in front of the Sailors for the Sea banners.

While everyone hates to turn down real money from a new sponsor to the sport, we urge anyone considering a Gazprom deal to consider the long term damage to your brand, your association, and the sport.  It’s not like Greenpeace will forget, and whether you disagree with their politics or not, this sport can ill afford the kind of scandal that a Gazprom in the AC or any major event could bring.

What do you think?  Share it here.

October 17th, 2013 by admin

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