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Posts Tagged ‘ISAF’

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Mr. Clean’s long chat with World Sailing Chief Marketeer Malcolm Page last week revealed that ISAF’s budgeted near-million-dollar line item for “World Sailing TV” referred to the 23-minute monthly television show that is apparently the keystone of ISAF’s new rebranding effort.  Episode 1 dropped on Youtube yesterday, and we struggled to get through it.  We can’t say it’s terrible – it does cover a few interesting things and some desperately dull ones – but we can say with some certainty that if the product stays like this, it will fail.

The first edition of World Sailing TV is like stepping back in time 15 years, which makes a lot of sense; as Page told us, it is essentially a more blue-blazered, olympic-ringed version of the Seamaster Sailing, the late night TV and order-by-mail DVD series that preceded the broadband internet era by a few essential years.  But instead of a modern interpretation of what that great series did, World Sailing TV just recreates it…lazily.  Labored voiceover, nothing ‘editorial’ in it at all, the series looks to us like 23 minutes of rights-free assembled PR footage set to a vanilla rights-free music track with a few dragged out interviews all tied together with a dull, labored voiceover that’s more Downton Abbey than Red Bull.

We know we’re not the target audience; not only is the information old, stale, and sanitized, but it’s almost an insult to those who stay up on the sailing news.  Perhaps it is for non-sailors?  It’s really hard to tell.   Undoubtedly someone at ISAF has a list from some TV distribution guy that shows how this groundbreaking TV show is going to reach 200 countries and hundreds of millions of eyeballs and change the world for the sport of sailing, but we all know that’s just not true.  After just one show, we’ll give World Sailing TV…4 stars out of 10, and if the next one is equally dull and uncreative, it will drop rapidly.  We all deserve another try.

Title shout to another movie best forgotten (except for Sophie Marceau).

February 6th, 2016 by admin

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Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 1.05.30 PMAs seems more and more common lately when it comes to ISAF and the regulation of the sport, the more you dig, the uglier it gets, and so it has gone with our reporting on the International Federation of Kitesports Organizations and its battle for survival against the might of World Sailing and its delegate, the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA). 

IFKO was formed by French and Portuguese kite associations to specifically address the governance of the 90% of kiteboarding that wasn’t neatly sucked up by ISAF and the IKA under the guise of ‘sail racing’, and with kiting on the agenda when the IOC has their big meeting in Rio this summer, never has control of kiteboarding been more important than now. 

We find the reason for IKFO’s creation compelling, and they’re saying all the right things in public, so we asked them to bring us up to speed on the situation.  Sofia Guerreiro, IKFO’s Director General, responded, and rather than losing her written flavor, we largely left her response ‘as is’:

Yes, IFKO is a real and official organization! Legally registered on the Notary, on the Justice Ministry, with a number of registrations, with sport statutes and all parameters created by the rules of the World of Sports under the direct guidelines of SportAccord.  IFKO intends to give Kitesports its own self-determination as an independent Sport! We are kiteriders, we are not sailors or tennis players. We have our own culture, identity and our own athletes!

Last week’s IKA press release and statement, like any other in the past, is their style move. They have no legal authority, but they try to push people into believing it and fake it.   IFKO simply applied like any other new sport for recognition at SportAccord. After SportAccord’s analysis of our process and legitimacy, we decided to open a platform to start the recognition process. Now ISAF and IKA will have to deal with it and with what they have done in the past!

In 2012, ISAF’s AGM registered one single discipline “IKA Formula Kite” in a self-named “Kiteboarding Committee”.  None of the other 17 kiting  disciplines were registered, and therefore SportAccord recognized the legitimacy of IFKO to apply for recognition of a new sport, bringing together members of those other 17 disciplines and achieving the Full Membership thereafter.

IN DETAIL:

- IFKO does not recognize IKA authority anywhere, nor will we engage in bad vibe discussions with this private company

- IFKO recognizes ISAF as the IF of the sport: Sailing;

- IFKO is the IF of the sport: Kitesports;

- Last AGM of ISAF was in 2012;

- Only IFs AGMs are official stages, so any decision taken, meetings or whatsoever taken in the middle are internal affairs (we do not have to respect it or even read it);

- ISAF legal reach of actions is written in 2012 AGM minutes, where the only discipline registered was “IKA-Formula-kite”;

- IKA is an undefined structure of ISAF, not recognized by SportAccord or IOC;

- IKA company can only work under official decisions settled at last ISAF AGM 2012; saying different is not legal.

- IKA and ISAF would be right to complain if IFKO used the Racing Rules of Sailing or any other property of ISAF, and/or if IKFO organized ‘IKA-Formula Kite’ competitions as registered by IKA.  IKFO does not do either of these things.

- IKFO does not care if IKA tries to make Formula-Kite in the Olympics.  IKFO has 17 disciplines of kitesports to develop and will focus on that.

MORE:

- “IKA”, the legal figure “association” with the name “international kiteboarding association” does not exist, this name doesn’t legally exist;

- IKA said in their “AGM” openly that they are a private company registered in Gibraltar with the name “Kitesports LTD”;

- Private companies have owners, and share holders, do not have “associates”;

- Private companies are made for money self profits objectives and therefore will not have the kiteriders’ interests as their first objective. Profit motives can help explain the motivation behind IKA’s threats to riders and judges and IKA’s goals over the past four years.

- We cannot find any legal contract between Ika and Isaf in the public minutes of Isaf. Is it secret? Who signed it? What does it says? Does it exist?

AND:

- IFKO will not use World Saling Rules, officials or whatsoever sailing stuff – that was something decontextualised and absurd said by new WS/Isaf CEO ;

- IFKO uses Kite rules, Kite directors, Kite identity dynamics, and our own sport identity to our competitions;

- IFKO does not ban Athletes that is blackmail, VERY wrong and ANTI-SPORT;

- SO IKA/ISAF IS BANNING ATHLETES OF COMPETITIONS THEY DO NOT HAVE LEGAL RIGHT TO ORGANIZE!

ABOUT IFKO:

- Our process of recognition of a new sport was accepted by SportAccord and now is opened to receive our reports to build it;
- IFKO just gets “recognition” after a proper stage of building (World Championships, WADA compliance, youth anti-doping seminars, actions of equality for women, actions for disabled Athletes, etc.);

- It is supposed we organize Worldchampionships because SportAccord demands reports of it, to submit evaluation if are being properly organized by Olympic movement standards;

- We have guidelines to prepare the process already with standards to Kitesports be able of recognition by IOC.

RESUMING:

- IFKO will not officially answer IKA’s threatening letter, IFKO has no duties to this private company;

- Our letter to the ISAF CEO is ready and may be public soon,

- Actually, if ISAF continues to threaten our riders and judges, it will help our argument to SportAccord.

- We believe IKA is engaging in fear tactics, trying to scare athletes at the moment of registration not do it, because they could have fear of IKA’s procedures.  The spread of fear is unacceptable.

- IKA strategies to our community always were, are, and will be lies, fear, threat, blackmail and abuse…and the most incredible is that community is believing it for years. IKFO does not accept it, and supports the end of secrets and back room deals.  Sport should be transparent, with decisions made democratically between representative national associations.

It´s time to for IKA to prove that it: 1st -exists?, 2nd- have any authority in what?, 3rd- has legal connection/contract with ISAF, made when? Who signed it? What was signed for us all? Where are these papers that should be public documents? Are they hidden or do they even exist?

Why during these 5 to 8 years the Kite community had no access to public documents decided by IKA?

Even more irregular: if ISAF bans Riders from other sport competitions, why is selling “special statutes” to others (and not only for WKT) to organize competitions??

ISAF seems to “sell” world championships: to WKT, to IKA and someone told us there is a 3rd client soon. Amazing. (it does not matter if they are going to court with each other, important is to sell and pretend you have the authority to sell it)
(By the way ISAF is also a private company and not a non-for-profit association, as SportAccord membership demands and demanded to IFKO).

All this is why the Portuguese and the French associations joined energies: to give Kitesports a fair chance inside Sport correct values to be regulated by itself and not to be submitted to this subversion and disorder that damage athletes and sport.

Kitesports wants to take the way Surf did, we all kiteriders should join in community and just follow the correct path other sports already did. IFKO is working against this sailing fake fear campaign that, even totally agreeing with IFKO, is keeping many national associations quiet and still.

Yes we have our wallet ready and a team of lawyers and sporting specialists. Now it’s up to the President.

-Sofia

 

February 5th, 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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Sailing Anarchy Senior Editor Mr. Clean finally tracked down double gold medalist Malcolm Page, the new spokesman and Chief Marketing Officer of World Sailing, to get the inside story on all the controversies piling up in ISAF’s inbox.  Page didn’t always give a complete answer but he didn’t back down, and a 20 minute chat turned into nearly an hour-long interview on the lawn at Coral Reef Yacht Club.  Want to know the latest directly from ISAF/WS about the Israel visa scandal and World Sailing’s response?  How about the name change?  Rio pollution, the loss of spectator stands, the Zika virus, the million-dollar-a-year World Sailing TV plan, and watching the Olympics?  It’s all here, along with much more.  Rather than take the time to mix the video with the audio, we’re presenting this one as an audio-only podcast; you can listen above or download it for later from Mixcloud.

NOTE: Those of you looking to watch the live broadcast of the Miami medal races on Saturday need to either get a VPN or make sure your cable includes ESPN.  Contrary to what Mal told us during the interview, the live stream is NOT available in the US unless you have pay TV, but strangely, it’s not even on pay TV – it’s only available through online broadcaster ESPN3.  So the first shot at livestreaming this cycle in the USA begins with a non-measurable, highly restrictive internet broadcast that seems likely to reach a few thousand people at best.

Not a great start to the brilliant World Sailing TV plan to take over the world, but that’s what happens when you pay a 65-year old man to distribute your media in 2016…

 

January 28th, 2016 by admin

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Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 11.39.35 AMAs we pointed out last week, ISAF WORLD SAILING’s mealy-mouthed response to Malaysia’s violation of ISAF and IOC rules in their discrimination against Israeli sailors didn’t actually say much, nor, in our opinion, will it prevent a repeat violation amongst the Israel-haters hosting many of ISAF’s coming events.  As far as we can tell, ISAF WORLD SAILING hasn’t even invalidated the World Championship status of the Langkawi event despite clear noncompliance with the Racing Rules of Sailing and the ISAF/Malaysia’s Host Venue Agreement – and the fact that two of the perennial medal winning juniors couldn’t attend.

We’re not sure why World Sailing is so weak-kneed and impotent, but usually these things flow downward from the top; perhaps President Carlo Croce is too busy? Remember, this guy – ostensibly running the organization governing the entire world’s sailboat racing – is also the President of the Italian Sailing Federation and the President of Italy’s biggest yacht club.  Busy man?

Like us (and anyone else who’s been paying attention), the Israel Sailing Association has no faith in ISAF World Sailing, and they’re not going to hide quietly by while their athletes are unlawfully excluded from this Olympic-funded sport.  After reading the World Sailing statement on Malaysia’s malfeasance,  the ISA asked on Monday for a guarantee from Croce that Israeli sailors won’t be excluded from any future ISAF events.

“We are very concerned that their decisions have no teeth,” ISA President Gili Amir told The Jerusalem Post. “If we don’t remain on guard, we will find ourselves in the same situation ahead of the championships in Oman as we did in Malaysia.

“There are a lot of politics involved, and everyone just wants to get away with the minimum required. The president is facing an election in November and this is all politics. He wants everyone to support him. No one knows what will happen the day after the president is chosen and we are concerned.

“If there isn’t a proper warning period to make sure host countries act according to the Olympic Charter and that if they don’t they will lose the competition or be barred from taking part in the Olympics or sanctions of that sort which can change their stance, there is no point to this entire episode.”

Israel’s Yoav Omer and Noy Drihan did not have an opportunity to defend their titles at the Youth World Championships in Langkawi, Malaysia, earlier this month after the ISA said that it will not be participating in the event due to the demands made by the organizers and the fact the surfers had yet to receive visas.

The ISA claimed that it was told the surfers would not compete under the Israel flag, wouldn’t be allowed to use any symbol identifiable with Israel on their cloths or surfboards and that the national anthem would not be played should an Israeli win a gold medal.

“We are disappointed that Malaysia hasn’t been punished,” said Amir.  “We are also skeptical whether World Sailing plans to enforce its own decisions.  We are afraid that this is all politics and we only trust ourselves.”

After investigating the matter, World Sailing wrote in a statement last week that “all World Sailing championships involve an element of country representation, and at all these regattas, flags shall be displayed and winners’ anthems played. They shall be displayed and played equally for all competitors.

Organizing Authorities who are not able to meet this requirement should not bid, and will not be selected, to host future World Sailing championships.”

The sport’s governing body said that it “deeply regrets” that Israel’s representatives were unable to compete “due to the conditions imposed by the Malaysian authorities,” but also added that the ISA’s conduct contributed to the unfortunate outcome.

“That is complete nonsense. We did exactly what we were supposed to,” insisted Amir. “They received our letter 24 hours before we sent it to the media. They are telling tales. They had to somehow appease the Malaysians so they wrote that nonsense. It is entirely inaccurate. We went exactly by the book and they are looking for excuses after not meeting their obligations.”

Amir believes money is ultimately the source of the problem.

“Organizing an international sailing competition is an expensive business and World Sailing chooses countries in which it makes money,” explained Amir. “Places like Oman, Malaysia or Abu Dhabi pay World Sailing a lot of money to host events. They don’t even have any sailors so what incentive do they have other than a political one?

“This is a growing trend in recent years, with more rich Muslim countries bidding for competitions. We are waging a battle for all of Israeli sport and this shouldn’t be the case because this isn’t our private war. Israel has a Foreign Ministry, Sports Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office and I see this as their responsibility. They don’t give us the support we need. We shouldn’t even need to deal with this.”

Read the rest of the story here.

 

January 21st, 2016 by admin

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ISAF World Sailing today issued the formal report and recommendations for the Langkawi Youth Worlds in Malaysia we’ve all been waiting for.  You remember – just a day ago, they told us it would be some groundbreaking shit, and we told you not to hold your breath.  It’s not complete crap, and it certainly moves the conversation forward.  But as you’d expect from a report written by an obviously conflicted party working for ISAF, it’s mostly a whitewash, and pretty much every ‘fact found’ had already been published in the Sailing Anarchy Forums or Israeli press days or weeks before.  Let’s have a look (Report excerpts are indented):

So Sorry

World Sailing deeply regret that 2 sailors from the Israel Yachting Association (IYA) were unable to compete at the 2015 Youth World Championships due to the conditions imposed by the Malaysian authorities, in order for them to be allowed permission to enter the country and compete at the regatta. 

They’re sorry!  We cannot remember the last time ISAF apologized for anything.  That means more than you might think.

Toothless

The key facts are set-out below and as a consequence of the investigation World Sailing re-affirms and defines more explicitly, the requirements of its “no discrimination” regulations on all regatta organizers. In summary, going forward, in the event of a breach of the “no discrimination” regulations at a regatta, World Sailing shall at its discretion impose sanctions on the Member National Authority (MNA) concerned. These may include:
• non-selection as a future venue;
• denial of appointment of World Sailing race officials to future regattas in the country, and / or
• cancellation of membership of World Sailing.

Notice these ‘sanctions’ are not mandatory despite the use of the term ‘shall…impose’; the words are gutted by the loose legalese ‘at its discretion’ and ‘may include’.  It’s an old trick a lawyer uses when they think you’re stupid and they are trying to fool you.  This loose language absolves World Sailing from imposing any sanctions on any MNA as long as they don’t feel like it, and allows them to impose only the most token of sanctions if they want.  It also ignores perhaps the most important sanction of all: Invalidating the regatta where the discrimination occurred.

Organized Chaos

Countries who do not have diplomatic relations with the country of a chosen venue, and officials who know they may have difficulty over entry into a country, shall accept the need to highlight these challenges well in advance. Such countries shall be prepared to select sailors and plan participation early enough for arrangements to be made.

Changing venue after selection is never desirable. In future, World Sailing staff will explicitly report on the implementation of its “no discrimination” requirement at a World Sailing regatta to the committee responsible so that any emerging difficulties can promptly be escalated to the Council of World Sailing. 

Instead of a hard requirement that a suspect nation’s Minister of Immigration or State Department Chief or King or Chief Avenger sign a Host Venue Agreement (including the nondiscrimination clause) guaranteeing immigration status to all competitors, Chris Atkins’ report calls for ‘highlighting these challenges well in advance’.  So no real timing guidelines for the revolving door of ISAF volunteers who run these events, more of a call for someone to ‘say something, so emerging difficulties can be escalated.’  T.P.S. Reports, anyone?

Spread It Around

The conditions required by the Malaysian authorities breached Article 7 of the World Sailing constitution. The late starting of the process to enable Israeli sailors to participate, delays and poor communication by all parties during that process, and the late notification of the conditions, contributed to the outcome and made it impossible for World Sailing and IOC to resolve the incident before the championships.

Here’s another tricky passage that calls to mind ambassadors and diplomatic statements rather than a sport enforcing its laws.  It starts off so strongly: “Malaysia, you broke the fucking rules.”  But then it all falls apart in the time-honored method of cowards and diplomats everywhere – creating fictitious blame and spreading it around.  Despite their own timeline saying otherwise, Atkins blames both Israel and Malaysia for ‘delays’, even though the Israelis notified Malaysia of their team 2 and a half months before the event – plenty of time to get a visa in any country, and precisely the amount of time Israel needed to complete the regattas they used to select its team.  It was Malaysia who then waited almost two months before telling the Israelis the odious ‘conditions’ they’d need to meet if they wanted to compete: No public presence, no purchasing of anything, no attendance at the event off the water, no anthem, national sail identification, and so on.  Atkins somehow has the nerve to write that it was the ‘late notification of the conditions…’ that contributed to the outcome; but it wasn’t.  It was the despicable, discriminatory conditions themselves that created the problem, and ISAF and the IOC’s lack of spine that allowed it to go on.  End of story.

The Five Commandments

• All sailors at all sailing events shall be entitled to race with their country code letters on their sails. A requirement for sailors to enter any sailing event under “World Sailing” or other disguising title breaches World Sailing regulations.
• If country flags are to be displayed, anthems played, or national team clothing worn, this shall apply equally to all sailors from all MNAs.
• All World Sailing championships involve an element of country representation, and at all these regattas, flags shall be displayed and winners’ anthems played. They shall be displayed and played equally for all competitors. Organizing Authorities who are not able to meet this requirement should not bid, and will not be selected, to host future World Sailing championships.
• The principle also applies to officials appointed by World Sailing to regattas. An Organizing Authority or host country MNA shall not seek to restrict such appointments on the grounds of race or any other discrimination.
• With regard to security, World Sailing believes that security is the responsibility of the host country; and there shall be no obligation to accept other nations’ security personnel. Security considerations may mean sailors from different countries are treated differently ashore.

We like this concise list of the kind of behaviour that’s prohibited as it doesn’t leave much up to interpretation.  But neither do the current IOC or ISAF rules, and Malaysia (and Oman, and Abu Dhabi) ignored the hell out of those.  Remember, the danger here is some vague possibility of sanctions levied on a whole nation by a body that’s shown no stomach for it; does anyone think that this won’t be a problem five or ten years down the road when the next country decides it wants to exclude people for whatever reason?

The final bullet above is a direct reference to the excuse that Malaysia gave for the Israeli situation – like George W. Bush, they trot out the old ‘risk to security!’ to explain their visa conditions.  Israel presumably said “fine – we’ll send our own bodyguards”.  Malaysia didn’t like that, and ISAF is trying to head the problem off with this term.  Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that we don’t have to revisit this one anytime soon.

Days of Future Past

While the report conveniently ignores the string of ISAF screwups that led to Malaysia being awarded the Youth Worlds without an ironclad nondiscrimination guarantee despite their knowledge that it was a potential problem, it does clearly lay out what’s prohibited in a way that can’t be ignored, and it should be commended at least for doing that job somewhat competently.  But what about the 900-pound elephant in the room?

We’re talking, of course, about the validity of not just the Youth Worlds, but also last year’s RS:X Worlds in Oman (an Olympic qualifier) as well as the 2014 and ’15 Sailing World Cup Finale in Abu Dhabi – all regattas with discriminatory visa issues that excluded top Israeli sailors.  The Atkins report itself cites an October statement from the International Olympic Committee – the body from which ISAF and MNAs get much if not most of their funding from – addressing the problem head-on.   The IOC wrote that for all competitions taking place under the auspices of an International Federation or National Olympic Committee or their continental or regional associations, it has to be ensured that all athletes from all their members can enter a country to compete and are treated equally. It was agreed that should this rule not be respected, the event in question cannot serve as a qualification event for the Olympic Games or any other championship. [emphasis ours].”

The Atkins report adds that “World Sailing confirms it will apply this guidance strictly to all future sailing regattas.”  But what about the qualification events that just happened?  How are they somehow considered valid despite clearly violating the IOC rules?”

Next Crisis

All in all, the ISAF World Sailing Report on Malaysian discrimination has holes big enough to drive an RS:X through.  That being said, it’s more direct and clearer than almost anything ISAF has done in years.  When one has been fed a diet of rotten food and offal for as long as one can remember, a piece of Wonder Bread tastes like the finest gourmet meal.  With Oman on deck for the Youth Worlds and Israel scheduled for the year after, here’s to the hope that the next meal is something a little better, and the one after that, better still.

 

January 13th, 2016 by admin

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The first of two major ISAF announcements dropped on Monday with the installation of former British Olympic Association CEO Andy Hunt as the new CEO of the newly renamed World Sailing. We don’t know much about Hunt beyond his various online profiles, which sum up a reasonably successful run as the head of the UK’s 5-ring team and several mostly irrelevant jobs in media and financial management. Hunt’s ‘employment’ history shows penchant for ‘Non-Executive’, or advisory-only roles in sporting bodies, which generally means one of two things: Either he loves to be involved in sports management (but not too involved) out of passion or ego, or he’s highly sought after because of his contacts and a willingness to use them.

Either way, where shit-kicking businessman Peter Sowrey was hired to help repair a broken organization before being ousted just 5 months into his tenure, Hunt’s C.V. doesn’t provide any evidence of a similar skillset.  Will this affable Pom provide the sorely needed leadership for ISAF World Sailing to regain some of its shredded credibility as it navigates several of the biggest PR disasters its ever faced? We’ll reserve our judgment for now, but click on the video above to meet the man yourself and come to your own conclusions.

As an aside, the video is World Sailing TV’s first official production since renaming itself from the widely ignored ISAF Sailing Channel.  That’s the same entity that will spend something like a million dollars a year from now until 2020 on sailing content.

We’ll rephrase that for you: The weak-ass video above – something a high school kid in media class would have been embarrassed to submit to a teacher back in 2011, let alone today – is meant to be a professional work product from a multi-million dollar professional sports media producer.

Discuss the new CEO gig here.  Learn more about the craziness behind ISAF World Sailing TV here.

UPDATE: The Final Solution

As ISAF World Sailing’s Marketing Director, Double gold medalist and alpha male Malcolm Page has been rapidly filling in the leadership vacuum at ISAF and trying to singlehandedly make up for a decade of opacity and miscommunication.  Page apologized for ISAF missing their self-imposed deadline for releasing the widely awaited report on Malaysia’s misconduct and discrimination against Israeli sailors, but his note went far beyond the usual passive, mealy-mouthed ISAF press release.  Call us ‘cautiously optimistic’ that the organization is about to step up to the plate and show some leadership…but only after minimizing their own role in ignoring a problem they knew about for years.  From Mal:

The report was completed approximately 24 hours ago.  With the decisions and changes that the World Sailing Executive and Council has decided on, it will set a precedent within all sports.  So to ensure that the correct procedure is followed, the report has been forwarded to ASOIF and the IOC for their consideration.  As soon as we have their opinion and guidance on the report it will be finalised and sent to you.

I assume you understand the importance of getting this right so that the these situations in sport have every chance to not happen again, and in turn understand the slight delay.  Sailing has the opportunity to be leaders in this area.

Finally, did anyone check with Larry Ellison to make sure he was cool with bringing the America’s Cup World Series that he owns  to Oman in light of the Omanis refusal to allow Israelis visas to the RS:X Worlds last October?  You know, the Larry Ellison who donated $10 million dollars to the freakin’ Israeli Defense Forces just last year?

 

January 13th, 2016 by admin

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2048With ISAF issuing one of the softest, weakest statements possible about the Malaysian visa scandal, it’s good to see there are sporting federations out there that aren’t controlled by weak, scared old men. Have a look at what the head of the world’s ping pong association told Malaysia…and their event hasn’t even happened yet.  Are you listening, ISAF?  Is there anyone at your organization that can actually be a leader?

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia could be barred from hosting major table tennis events unless it gives Israel visas to compete in next month’s world team championships, the sport’s global body said today (Jan 7).

Judit Farago, CEO of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), gave the warning as the results of the Israeli team’s visa applications remain undecided.

If they deny visas, then Malaysia will not be awarded any world title events in the future by the ITTF,” Farago told AFP by email.

Get in the thread for more news, and to discuss the impending statement by conflicted ISAF ‘investigator’ Chris Atkins.

 

January 10th, 2016 by admin

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ISAF World Sailing started playing the ‘blame the Jews’ game with their recent release about the Malaysian visa denials, sending  ISAF ‘Investigator’ Chris Atkins (who was part of the team that negotiated the Malaysia ISAF Worlds agreement) for his ‘deep’ investigation of the situation.  Atkins is clearly working hard – so hard that he could only spend a minute giving a quote to the “Free Malaysia Today” newspaper for their article entitled “Country’s Reputation Not Effected By Visa Denials To Israelis.”

No, we’re not making that up.  And yes, ISAF knew long ago that Malaysia was a problem.  According to ‘Investigator’ Atkins, the event’s success is a ‘result of the commitment shown by the sailors taking part and the hard work of the Malaysian Sailing Association to ensure the smooth running of the tournament.’ “This tournament will be the beginning of a journey for these young surfers towards the 2020 Olympics and that’s why we call this championship a jewel,” said Atkins.  A smooth-running jewel, as long as you ignore hundreds of articles, worldwide outrage, and sponsor problems.

But fortunately, ISAF World Sailing has given everyone attending the London Boat Show a chance to weigh in on the issue on Friday.  As posted yesterday by SA’er ‘winchfodder’ in the contentious thread, you can go and chat with ISAF, so PLEASE GO AND ASK GARY JOBSON WHY ISAF IS SENDING THE GUY WHO HELPED LAUNCH THE MALAYSIA WORLDS TO INVESTIGATE THE MALAYSIA WORLDS.  While you’re at it, ask them how much it cost them to buy Matt Sheahan off.

AN AUDIENCE WITH WORLD SAILING
15:45 January 8th 2016
London Boat Show Theatre | London Boat Show | ExCel
You are invited to join World Sailing for a 30 Minute interactive discussion on the direction of the sport. With topics to be covered including:
The Road to Rio
The Emerging Nations Program
The launch of new World Sailing website
World Sailing TV
World Sailing’s new in-house production facilities
Speakers to include World Sailing’s Vice President Gary Jobson and Chief Marketing Officer Malcolm Page along with special guests including World Sailing TV Series Editorial Director Matthew Sheahan.

 

January 6th, 2016 by admin

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The Malaysian visa denial scandal has started a full-fledged political brouhaha in Malaysia’s government, but there’s plenty going on under ISAF’s roof as well, with a crucial emergency meeting coming up on the 8th of January.  We turn to SA’er “Rail Meat” for a more analytical look at the situation, and what you can do to make your opinion heard before the ISAF meeting. To really dig into it and find all the links and public statements, read the SA Forum thread.

In what is normally a quiet week, there has been a lot of activity in the halls of the various organizations that govern sailing.  I honestly did not expect to see as much action as we have seen, given the fact that most of the world disconnects between Christmas and New Year’s.

Since Sailing Anarchy first lit up the story about Malaysia injecting politics into a World Championship sporting event, there has been progress made.  Several National Authorities including US Sailing, the Danish sailing federation, the German national sailing authority, the Dutch national sailing authority and the New Zealand national sailing authority have all made public statements that rejected Malaysia’s actions and forcefully urged World Sailing (ISAF) to take action.  Some have wished for additional or different language in their responses, but in my view it was pretty remarkable that five significant national sailing authorities were able to quickly mobilize the necessary quorum to publish these statements in a timely fashion.  It highlights the apparent failure of other significant sailing authorities to similarly support fair play in sailing, with no political influence.

I have also been heartened by the degree to which US Sailing President Bruce Burton has been wiling to engage in direct dialogue on the topic.  He responded to an email I sent him on the topic, and engaged in an on-going dialogue that has been notable for its honesty, candor and desire to see something done about the type of politics that we saw play out in the Youth World Championships.  He certainly had better things to do with his holiday week than to engage with me, and the level of detail he was willing to get into suggests to me that there is a forthright desire to see World Sailing make changes in future events.  The actions taken to date by US Sailing along with the direct communication I have had with President Burton goes a long way towards restoring faith in US Sailing, and makes it far easier for the US Class 40 to renew its membership.

World Sailing’s initial response, while reasonably quick, was weak.  Dispatching someone to Malaysia who was probably already going to be there is hardly a endorsement of the values we as sailors want to see in this situation.  The fact that they have convened an emergency board meeting for January 8 is a positive sign that they are taking the situation seriously, or are at least engaged enough to understand that there is real anger across the sailing community over this situation.  But their statement of December 31 has some worrisome language.

When they wrote that “[World Sailing] acknowledges that delays in communication by both Israeli and Malaysian officials in the lead up to the regatta have contributed to the situation spiraling into the current controversy” is a poor attempt to obscure the fundamental reason for this “current controversy”.  The only reason there is any controversy is because Malaysia initially denied the Israeli athletes visas, then would only grant visas if the Israelis accepted intolerable and embarrassing restrictions that no other countries’ athletes were subject to.  World Sailing’s language suggests that the Israelis were some how at least partially responsible for the outcome, a completely false canard that seems to be World Sailing’s way to spread blame and take the focus off of Malaysia and World Sailing’s culpability.

It is too late to take any action that will impact this year’s Youth World Championships.  It will forever be tainted by this controversy with its host country rightfully being scorned by the world wide sailing community and its participants unfortunately never able to have the satisfaction of knowing that their accomplishments were achieved against the all of the world’s best.

It is not, however, too late to hold World Sailing accountable to make the kind of changes so that this will not happen again.  This will not be easy.  The very structure of World Sailing insulates its decision makers from that accountability.  National Sailing Authorities have important influence, but even their ability to drive action is indirect at best.  The IOC certainly has a strong influence in the form the financial contribution it makes to World Sailing, and maybe for the first time, the world’s sailing community can actually be heard, and bring more conversation to the issue.

So what can you do?

1) IF you’re in a country whose National Authority has not yet made a statement on the Malaysia visa issue, reach out directly to your national MNA via phone, email, or social media, and let them know what their membership wants to see and what you will do if you don’t see action.

2) When your authority has made a public statement, hold them accountable for following through on it.  Far too frequently, these statements become lost in the shuffle, their makers forgetting promises almost as soon as they make them.

3) Contact the key parties in World Sailing directly!  They do this ostensibly because they love sailing, and their job is to represent their members.  You can submit a general contact via the ISAF website, or reach out to Carlo Croce, Nazil Imre, George Andreadis, Chris Atkins, Adrienne Greenwood, Gary Jobson, Quanhai Li, and W. Scott Perry – the full Exec Committee – via social media or your own contacts.

4) Reach out directly to the people who have the most contact with these types of situation -the Events Committee – and tell them how you feel.  It’s a small smart and a big committee, so you might know some of them, and their contact info is here.  Conversation and discussion can only help these hard-working volunteers do the right thing.

5) ISAF and the Events Committee get a significant amount of operating budget from their sponsors.  If you’re not happy with ISAF’s response, let those sponsors know via social media or e-mail.  They may not even know that the event they sponsor has  discriminated against Israeli athletes.

As you’d expect, a wide variety of thoughts have been shared on the Sailing Anarchy thread about the “correct” course of action that should be taken by World Sailing, but a few ideas seem to be consistently repeated:

1) Malaysia should be censured, perhaps by being denied the right to host any future events (including the Monsoon Cup) for the next several years

2) World Sailing/ISAF should enhance their screening process to look for such things as governmental policies that prohibit visas to citizens of certain countries or are discriminatory in other ways.  Another enhancement would be cooperation with other sporting authorities to determine if athletes in other hosted events have experienced unfair practices.

3) A demand from World Sailing that if awarded an event the national authority and the government guarantee that all athletes will be treated equitably, and an understanding that failure to follow through on this commitment could result in loss of the event or a ban on hosting future events.

4) The understanding that if sanctions are taken by World Sailing against a country, then those actions will be shared with the governing authorities for other sports for their own evaluations.

Given by an apparent history by both Oman and Israeli in holding up visas for athletes in prior events, World Sailing should require a commitment from both countries in order for them to keep the events scheduled in each over the next two years.

If you are going to share your thoughts, do it soon.  January 8 is coming up quickly.

Michael “Rail Meat” Hennessy

 

January 4th, 2016 by admin

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