PtG Article 02.06.2009

Ethical volleyball federation has problems following its own standards

In 2006, the World Volleyball and Beach Volleyball Federation (WVBF) was founded in Copenhagen as an ethical alternative to a corrupt and undemocratic regime in the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB). However, despite a professed commitment to transparency, WVBF will not say who its members are or publish findings from a commissioned ethics report on the breakdown of relations with the beach volley organisation ProSeries last year.

Play the Game has followed the WVBF since its inception in November 2006, and the adoption of a set of ethical principles which stressed that “WVBF members pledge particularly to defend the ethical, transparency and professionalism which are the WVBF fundamentals.”

In this spirit, the newly elected president, Jean-Pierre Seppey, promised to show us a membership list within a week. More than two years down the line, Play the Game is still waiting despite numerous requests for a copy of the list. The number of members became interesting again at the end of 2008 when the WVBF Congress decided to apply for IOC recognition and thereby effectively threw down a gauntlet to the FIVB.Play the Game again approached  Seppey for more information about this initiative and a confirmation of the number of member organisations which a WVBF press release had set at 60. Instead of just ignoring our request again, Seppey graciously invited journalists from the organisation based in Denmark to interview him in Switzerland “whenever you like.”In February 2009, a member of Play the Game staff was in Lausanne for a number of meetings and tried to set up an interview with Seppey. Despite several attempts, she never heard from the WVBF president. In May this year, a new request for a membership list only resulted in a new blanket invitation for a face-to-face interview in Lausanne, although it is perfectly possible to send a membership list as an attachment to an e-mail.The missing ethics reportSince November last year, Play the Game has been looking into the story of the breakdown in the partnership between WVBF and ProSeries, an Italian beach volleyball organisation ("Beach volley partnership collapsed in total acrimony"). The partnership to set up a series of beach volley tournaments ended in acrimony after 18 months when WVBF refused to fulfill its financial obligations to ProSeries, and the president of ProSeries, Emanuele Monduzzi, was barred from playing in any WVBF tournament because of alleged breaches of WVBF's ethic principles.In a mail from Seppey to the WVBF's board of adminstration in June 2008, Seppey explains that the  head of WVBF's ethic commission, professor Graf, is “mandated to inquire and find out of the different responsibilities of WVBF, ProSeries, Mr. Monduzzi and Pubbliteam with a total neutrality and independency.”Play the Game requested a copy of the report at the end of 2008 but received no reply. In January 2009, we approached both Seppey and professor Graf again and only received a reply from Seppey after intervention from a member of WVBF's Board of Adminstration. This time Seppey told us that he would now “contact Mr. Graf to go ahead with this file.”A new request in May for a copy of the report has been fruitless and the question is whether it has been produced at all. Certainly, Monduzzi has not been approached by professor Graf for his version of events yet. Play the Game has asked Seppey whether he believes that WVBF is living up to its own ethical principles when it does not want to tell us who its members are or fails to produce promised reports on ethical issues. We are still waiting for a reply.