PtG Article 22.08.2005

International Volleyball tries to remove speaker from conference

The International Volleyball Federation, FIVB, will not succeed in its attempts at stopping one of its strongest critics, the Argentine Mario Goijman, from addressing the world communication conference, Play the Game, which takes place in Copenhagen from 6-10 November 2005.

Goijman has been invited to the conference to present his allegations against Ruben Acosta, the powerful president of FIVB. According to Goijman, Mexican Acosta has enriched himself for years at the expense of FIVB by taking commissions on contracts he has negotiated on behalf of the volleyball federation.

As a consequence of Goijman’s criticisms, Ruben Acosta is facing a court case in Switzerland charged with attempting to deceive the FIVB Congress.

In a letter to Play the Game, FIVB attempts to use the court case as a reason why public debate of FIVB governance would be unlawful. FIVB threatens to take legal action against every individual member of Play the Game’s board and programme committee, if Play the Game does not agree to remove Goijman from the speaker’s list by 20 August. 

Play the Game aims to encourage democracy, transparency and freedom of expression in world sport and therefore refuses to withdraw its invitation to Mario Goijman.

”The debate on how the big international sports federations manage their assets is very important and of course you do not breach Danish or international law by addressing such issues. We have replied to FIVB’s letter and repeated our invitation for them to take part in the debate rather than engage in pointless court cases,” says Jens Sejer Andersen, director of Play the Game.

”It is true that in the region of Switzerland where FIVB and other big international sports federations are based there is a “secrecy of inquiry” during some of the initial phases of a legal case. But this phase has been over for quite some time, and the case will shortly be presented in a courtroom open to the public. Also, the rule only applies within the borders of the Swiss region, so it is perfectly safe for FIVB to come to Copenhagen and present their views.”

Mario Goijman and Argentine volleyball have paid a high prize for criticising the leadership of the International Volleyball Federation. Goijman was president of the Argentine Volleyball Federation and hosted the World Cup in 2002. Now both he and the federation have been excluded from FIVB and FIVB has set up a new, more loyal volleyball federation in Argentina. The FIVB has also introduced a new set of internal guidelines – “Code of Conduct” – which makes it virtually impossible to voice any criticisms of FIVB management.

See also Play the Game's dateline with an overview of the most important events in what Mario Goijman calls Volleygate. The overview includes links to primary sources with information about the case.