PtG Article 20.11.2006

Manipulating Acosta may gain on world volley breakaways

In spite of continued manipulation with public information and many unanswered questions about corruption, it seems that the president of The International Volleyball Federation, Ruben Acosta, has gained some ground in his fight against the group of expelled or retired volleyball officials who call for founding an alternative volleyball federation in Copenhagen on 25-26 November.

In the climate of retaliation and fear that rules in the FIVB, it is not easy to measure the real backing that the opposition group enjoys, since nobody dares to speak out openly against Acosta.

However, independent observers present at the recent FIVB congress in Tokyo estimate that very few national federations will leave the FIVB or attend the rivalling congress in Denmark.

“There was a general sentiment that the sport can only operate well if it remains united within one organisation, whatever imperfections it may have,” one observer says to Play the Game.

If this is so, Ruben Acosta has achieved his two primary goals – to confirm unity and get re-elected for his seventh term without anyone voting against him or returning a blank ballot paper. The simple explanation: The delegates never voted on these two key questions.

Questionable how many signed the Tokyo Declaration

FIVB claims that all delegates ratified the so-called “Tokyo Declaration” as the very first move on the opening day. The declaration confirms loyalty to FIVB as the only worldwide governing body of volleyball and rejects all the “ignoble, insidious attacks and false accusations made against the FIVB and its President.”

But these claims are false according to a national delegate, Play the Game has spoken to.

“When the declaration was read out to the delegates in English, French and Spanish, someone had the courage to ask for it in writing before voting on it. Then the voting was cancelled and we were told that the declaration would be put forward at a later stage for signature. It might have been put out, but I never saw it – and I did not go out of my way to find it either,” the delegate says.

Play the Game has asked the FIVB how many federations ended up signing the Tokyo Declaration and why FIVB sent out a press release stating that all delegates had approved the declaration when it was clearly not the case. But so far the FIVB has not answered our questions.

Re-election by acclamation – not by ballot

As for the re-election of the president, it took place in the traditional FIVB manner. Since no other person than Dr. Ruben Acosta from México could live up to the requirements that the FIVB board defined earlier this year it was suggested that Acosta was re-elected by acclamation.

This was followed by a standing ovation, so if anyone had in mind to protest silently with a blank vote the opportunity was lost.

Jean-Pierre Seppey, the former general manager of the FIVB who directs the work to set up an alternative international volleyball federation was in Tokyo during FIVB’s congress where he spoke to delegates.

“Many said to me they were particularly disgusted when Acosta organised his election on the third day by applause and did not dare take the secret ballot,” he says to Play the Game.

Seppey does not want to comment on the possible impact of the FIVB congress on the efforts to set up a new international volleyball federation. But he believes that in time, the ethics, democracy and honesty of the FIABVB will absorb Acosta and the FIVB.

Acosta retires in 2009

The past year’s battles in meeting rooms, media and tribunals may have had an effect on the self-reliant FIVB president, after all. According to observers, Acosta seemed nervous and weak when the congress opened, but gathered strength bit by bit as things went his way.

Nevertheless, the discussion about Ruben Acosta’s leadership took a surprising turn shortly after the FIVB congress when he declared in a media interview that he is determined to leave his position by 2009 when he turns 75.

“It is not at all my plan to stay as President after 2010. On the contrary, I would like to introduce an age limit for leadership positions by which it ends at 75,” Acosta said 6 to the German television station Acosta himself turns 75 in 2009