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Posts Tagged ‘IFKO’

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The talented former pro rider and Founder/president of the International Federation of Kitesports Organizations talks to Alan Block about the years long struggle between his organization and a group of companies, people, and organizations – including World Sailing – for the governance, ownership, and future of kiteboarding at all levels.  Diogo Paes Fernandes has a very interesting story to tell about the biggest sporting organizations in the game, and we were fascinated to hear it.  if you are interested in board sports, the sports’ governance, and the dirty meat inside the shiny Olympic fruit, this one’s for you.  Direct downloads here, and please subscribe to the SA Podcast here (iTunes) or here (Android).

Show Notes:

07:54 Why Spanish people can’t understand Portuguese but Portuguese can understand Spanish
09:34 How Diego began his kiteboarding career, what he’s done
12:29 How to raise a kiting rock star – or at least a kid who loves what you do
15:04 Is the current state of kiting – tech and the sport’s maturity – a good time for a young rider to get into the sport?
16:29 Has the more modern gear and design made kiting safer? How did you deal with your kid’s safety when learning?
19:29 What was it like in the early days of pro riding? What was competitive kiting like before the IKA was born? When was it born?
22:38 How did IKA convince kite organizations to join them and World Sailing?
23:42 Was it improper for IKA to declare itself the governing body of kiting? Why?
24:04 Who is the mystery character that has been pushing kite boarding towards sailing and the olympics?
25:06 What is an International Federation anyway? How does it validly and responsibly represent its sport?
27:39 Is kiteboarding sailing? What do riders think?
29:04 What happened to windsurfing under ISAF/World Sailing stewardship?
30:44 Is World Sailing somehow sabotaging windsurfing to get kites in the Olympics?
31:44 Why doesn’t Diogo and IFKO work within World Sailing to accomplish the goals of the riding community?
33:24 Who are all the organizations now claiming to control kiting and how have they gone about pursuing those claims?
37:09 Who has jurisdiction over the IOC and its affiliated organizations?
38:39 Would kiting be better off under the IFKO or World Sailing? Why?
42:24 False documents, national sports ministers, and accreditation. How does it work (or not work)?
43:44 What laws does Diogo think have been broken in this case?
46:24 Why does sailing wants kiting in the Olympics so badly?
49:54 Why does Olympic sailing have such poor fan base
54:24 Speed skating, the EU commission for sport, and monopolies. What’s up?
55:09 How does Diogo intend to move forward to regain control of kiting?
57:59 What is the Global Kitesports Association, and what do they do?
62:61 what are IKA/GKA doing to advance kiteboarding interests?
68:44 Are there any official inquiries into the whole IKA vs. IFKO saga or anyone officially questioning IKA’s right to ‘exclusively govern’ kiteboarding?
70:54 What organizations does the IFKO represent?
75:44 How did the IKA move into and gather the support of the national kiting bodies?
81:04 Javier Perez Dolset, Spanish jails, and the ownership of kiteboarding.
87:04 Virgin Kite World Tour and Sir Richard Branson’s love affair with kiting. What kind of money is in kiting competitions?
88:34 Has Diogo or the IFKO reached out to Richard Branson?
89:54 Does Diogo  really believe World Sailing is corrupt?
90:54 If Diogo could set the sport up in his own dream scenario, what would it look like in ten years?
96:09 How can riders or others support what you’re trying to achieve for kiteboarding?

September 25th, 2017 by admin

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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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After the EU issued its potentially groundbreaking opinion on the anti-competitive nature of certain sporting rules last month we knew there’d be a shakeup, and the first shots have just been fired across ISAF World Sailing’s bows.  The International Federation of Kitesports Organizations sent this letter to World Sailing, putting them on notice that their attempted monopolization of kiteboarding shouldn’t stand.  With World Sailing’s AGM coming up next week and the all-important election to see if current President Carlo Croce will be allowed to continue his reign, this bombshell puts even more pressure on the MNA members to get with the times and elect someone who understands the ‘good ol’ boys’ days are over.  Here’s the letter:

This Warning Letter is to inform WS that if it does not refrain from taking any decisions or voting concerning the Sport Kitesurfing/Kiteboarding on water at the next WS AGM in November/Barcelona and act in order to maintain the Kiteboarding status quo, we will unfortunately have to apply for a court order to ensure and preserve the IFKO governance rights on Kitesurfing/Kiteboarding on water sport.

This written warning is issued because, at first sight, WS has no legitimacy to govern the Sport of Kiteboarding on water (commonly known as Kitesurfing) demonstrated in the following evidences: a) WS by Constitution, denomination and aims is the governing body of the sport Sailing; b) IFKO is the only international federation in the world with the denomination, nature, object and objectives by constitution as governing body of all Kitesports; c) WS recognises “IKA” as the “class association” however there is no evidence or transparent proof of the existence of the legal registration of this entity as an “association” with this denomination since 2008.
Your failure to refrain from taking any decisions or voting concerning the Sport Kitesurfing/Kiteboarding on water at next WS AGM in November/Barcelona negatively impacts IFKO work and authority as governing body of the sport Kitesurfing. It demonstrates the intention of duplication of governance already taken by IFKO, disrespects the legal object and objectives of IFKO and directly damages the proper world organisation of the Kitesurfing sport.

This WS intention of usurpation of IFKO governance rights on Kitesurfing sport problem is not the first time. You have been informed and warned on four other occasions (by letter: 07/01/2016, 10/02/2016, 18/03/2016, 14/10/2016) to respect the IFKO existence, nature, object and objectives.

IFKO, as it is under SportAccord Membership application procedure, asked SportAccord and AIMS to set up and mediate a meeting between IFKO and WS Delegations which had a positive answer. We hope you will promptly accept the meeting request in a good will to achieve understanding in this “rivalry issue” on the Kitesurfing governance in good faith and reasonable grounds.

November 3rd, 2016 by admin

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Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 1.39.33 PMISAF World Sailing has happily continued with their attempt at “Word Domination”, attacking the first two events on the International Federation of Kiteboarding Organization calendar as “Prohibited” for one reason only: The IFKO are choosing to use their own rules, not ISAF’s.  Under the RRS, World Sailing believes it has the right to completely ban any competitor at these IFKO events from ANY future racing on the water.  This ban would include all junior boarders at the now-‘prohibited’ Junior Freestyle World Cup.

That’s right, folks: World Sailing actually believes it has the right to ban a 12 year old kid from racing his Opti for years solely because the kid entered a freestyle kiteboarding competition.  Or they can ban you from racing the Sydney Hobart on a cruiser because you did backflips on your kiteboard at the kitesurf world series.  Seriously!

There’s plenty of background on this issue in the story we ran in February, but the long and the short of it is this: Under the laws of MANY countries in which it functions, legal experts agree that World Sailing is prohibited from disciplining sailors for competing in events that contravene the bizarre prohibition against non-RRS events using the word “World” in their titles.  The claimed reason?  “Eliminating confusion” amongst sailors and the public about what is a ‘World’ level event.  The real reason?  ISAF sells the use of the word for thousands and thousands of dollars.  The bigger reason?  ISAF absolutely MUST control the introduction of kiting to the Olympics or they lose millions.

Those same experts said that they can’t find any other sport that claims this type of control over a common word, in some cases because they were told by their lawyers long ago that it wouldn’t fly.  But because yacht races are largely run by Yacht Clubs rather than transparent, publicly accountable organizations, the status quo has endured.  Don’t rock the boat, old boy.

Read the World Sailing press release if you want to see just how out of hand ISAF has gotten.  They are actually threatening junior sailors with a ban on all racing activities solely because these kids want to go freeriding at a cool event.

As we’ve said before, we encourage IFKO competitors to stay strong and continue to buck the bullshit artists trying to extort and threaten them into submission.  And of course you need to send us any and all correspondence you receive from ISAF World Sailing or the IKA on this issue. Only sunlight can cure this infection.

 

March 30th, 2016 by admin

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Clean Report

For around thirty years now, ISAF (now known as World Sailing) has had a peculiar rule. It’s a rule that almost every other sporting organization long ago learned wasn’t enforceable, but somehow, World Sailing didn’t get the memo.  And as The Ed reported yesterday, World Sailing is using this rule as a bludgeon to try to kill off a potential rival for control of kiteboarding – and the megamillions ready to flow the sport’s way when the Olympic money faucet turns in a few short years (or way sooner).

We are not opining on whether World Sailing is the proper governing body for kiteboarding.  It may be the best possible option, and the kiters could be lucky to have them in command.  But we sure don’t remember a robust public debate about it, or a vote among the millions of kiting enthusiasts to submit to ISAF control over their competition rather than some other body.  And we do remember the manner in which ISAF quietly snatched control of all things kiting in 2009 and immediately threatened independent kiting organizations. It was nasty, and wrong.  And in some countries, we believe it is illegal at worst, and unenforceable at best.

We believe the IKFO can be the organization that finally invalidates ISAF World Sailing’s absolute control over the word “World”, and shines a light on the legally questionable and chaotic patchwork of regulations the sport’s governing body uses to prevent a problem that doesn’t exist.  Easy for us to say – we’re not volunteering to fund a legal challenge to World Sailing’s threat to the IKFO.  But it’s definitely worth a few hours of investigation by a good lawyer if the IKFO is a real organization and not some kind of stunt.

Word War 19

At issue is World Sailing Regulation 19.14, which says a sailor’s eligibility for all sailing events “may be suspended or revoked…for competing in a Prohibited Event’ without ISAF approval, that ‘uses the word “world” either in the title of the event or otherwise…’

In other words, if you go race in the ‘Stand-Up-Paddleboard-With-Big-Sail World Cup’, and World Sailing finds out, they claim they can prevent you from sailing in any event that uses the ISAF Racing Rules for two full years. 

Now maybe they can in some countries.  Hell, maybe they can in most countries.  But as many other sports have found out, there’s a chunk of the world where the government doesn’t allow sporting bodies – especially those with government-granted monopolies like US Sailing or ISAF – to exclude competitors because they don’t like their extracurricular activities.  If you’re talking about livelihoods, it gets even worse for World Sailing – try to explain to a US Court that you’re preventing a sponsored kiteboarder from earning a living because he sailed a weekend event in some unrelated organization’s ‘World Cup.’  If you can do that with a straight face, you need to talk to an American lawyer.  Or ring Jim Capron, the President of US Sailing back when the organization got smacked around by Farrah Hall’s legal team, blowing hundreds of thousands in legal fees and costs in their support of ISAF-written rules on eligibility.  It’s a slam dunk.

It’s not that complicated:

It’s not the World Cup, it’s the FIFA World Cup.

It’s not the Formula One World Championship, it’s the FIA Formula One World Championship.

It’s not the Skiing World Cup, it’s the FIS Skiing World Cup.

It’s not the Boxing World Championship, it’s the WBA, WBC, WBO, IBA, IBC, IBO World Championship.

Does anyone really think these sports’ governing bodies are less sophisticated than World Sailing?  Maybe they have dumber lawyers or less creative rule writers?  Major League Baseball can’t even prevent foreign baseball leagues from using the words “World Series”, but somehow World Sailing can control an even more general word?  Why is this even a question anymore?

Answer: Because no one has challenged it.  But a little pushback and the invalidation of the offending part of Regulation 19 would be a great thing for World Sailing in the long run.  They could stop defending archaic ideas and focus on building their reputation and their brand, whatever it’s called these days.

We say to IKFO: Get your wallets out, find yourself a hungry lawyer itching for a fight, and make some noise for kiteboarding just as the Olympics starts thinking about turning the money on for a new discipline in sailing, or board sports, or whoever ends up owning the kites.  We’re pretty confident that some court-ordered sunshine on World Sailing’s Regulations will illuminate a lot more than a little vocabularic overreach.

 Discuss here.

 

February 3rd, 2016 by admin

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