PtG Article 20.09.2006

FIVB critics will found new federation in Copenhagen

Critics of the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) are moving forwards with plans for a new international volleyball federation. In late November a founding congress will take place in Copenhagen for the new federation whose main purpose is to clean up the FIVB and rid it of its current leadership.

Spearheading the campaign for a more ethical and democratic international volleyball federation is Jean-Pierre Seppey, the former secretary general of FIVB who was fired by FIVB president Ruben Acosta last year. He says that the decision to place the founding congress of the International Federation of Beach Volleyball and Volleyball Associations (FIABVB) (link disabled) is very deliberate.

“All over the world Denmark enjoys a reputation of being a country that lauds justice and cracks down on unsavoury practices and corruption. It will have great symbolic value for our federation to be founded there,” Seppey says to the Danish newspaper, Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten.

The board of Play the Game has given its moral support to the new federation.

“Play the Game promotes democracy, transparency and freedom of speech in world sport and this initiative is completely consistent with these aims,” says Jens Sejer Andersen, director of Play the Game.

The board of Play the Game also offers FIABVB independent journalistic coverage of the congress and is ready to negotiate other forms of help which can be given without compromising the integrity of Play the Game.

Different interpretations of democracy

There is much less enthusiasm in the attitude of Kai Holm, the president of the National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark. Holm who is also a member of the IOC says to the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten that he can not support the new federation.

“To ask for our support in founding a break-away federation has no meaning. We have democracy in the world of sport and that should be used. There is only way forward which is to stand up in democratic forums and put forward your criticism,” says Holm.

While Holm agrees that FIVB appears to be run in an undemocratic manner and has a penchant for throwing out its critics, he calls it pathetic that none of the national federations have been able to put the criticism forward at meetings or form an alliance against it.

At Play the Game, director Jens Sejer Andersen agrees that national volleyball federations have failed in their responsibilities towards their own sport. But the situation is such that drastic measures are needed for changes to occur.

“At this point in time it would be dangerous to just lean back and rely on democracy to do its work in FIVB. That would be a recipe for corruption to continue as long as Ruben Acosta and his wife are alive,” Andersen believes.

He also finds it difficult to see that the founders of the new FIABVB which also include Mario Goijman can be considered pathetic.

“These people have tried to use the democratic means inside FIVB and were expelled. Now they spend their time and their own money to save the face of volleyball.”

Andersen instead calls on Kai Holm to use his position as an IOC member to get IOC to apply pressure on the FIVB.

“The IOC could decide to withhold financial contributions as it has previously done in the case of boxing. Or the IOC could make it a condition for participating in the Olympic Games that FIVB deals with the mismanagement of the organisation. If the IOC applies that kind of pressure, I am sure democracy will start working inside the FIVB,” Andersen says.

Read more about the problems in international volleyball on Play the Game's theme page All about Volleygate