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
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.