PtG Article 12.09.2007

National Olympic Committee still controls San Marino volleyball

The tiny state of San Marino has become the scene of some very strange manoeuvres in sports governance. The local Volleyball Federation is currently suspended by the FIVB because the national Olympic Committee (CONS) dismissed local board members and replaced them with others. New elections were held in August to rectify the problem but became a charade as CONS enrolled hundreds of false members for the ballot.

The problems began in 2005 when the San Marino Volleyball Federation (FSPAV) adopted a new charter and elected four athletes to the board. The national Olympic Committee (CONS) immediately claimed that it is not possible to have athletes on a board. Over time the conflict has become increasingly aggravated, and CONS eventually suspended the entire volleyball board and replaced it with other members.

In July this year, the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) and the European Volleyball Federation (CEV) decided to apply the ultimate pressure on San Marino over this instance of interference by excluding the FSPAV, so no San Marino teams could play abroad. Fairly quickly CONS agreed to FIVB’s demand that new elections should be called in August based on the conditions that existed in 2005 and in the presence of representatives from FIVB and CEV.

A severe case of administrative doping

But it all went wrong when election time came round.

Alessandro Della Balda, one of the FSPAV vice president ousted by CONS, describes events on the night of the elections as “administrative doping.

He explains that since the board appointed by CONS took over control of volleyball, more than 350 people have been enrolled as members of the federation through false affiliation of clubs that do not play volleyball but football.

“Thereby they built a system with the goal of maintaining the status quo,” says Della Balda.

Therefore it was of key importance to FIVB, CEV and the original volleyball clubs that the elections this August should happen using the membership list from 2005 before the problems began.

But despite the presence of representatives from both CEV and FIVB, the ballot ended up being based on the membership list provided by CONS. As a consequence, representatives from the local clubs Pallavolo San Marino and Promosport decided to leave the assembly.

“Why should we repeat the elections under the conditions wanted by CONS when we have fought for more than two years to denounce the administrative doping by CONS and their lack of respect for the Olympic Charter,” asks  Della Balda.

The elections went ahead anyway, and the CONS candidate, Lazzarini, was re-elected as president.

“We can not explain what happened that night, but it is another case of violation of the autonomy of the federation. Why do CONS fight against people who are athletes, against the FIVB and the IOC’s Olympic Charter?” says Della Balda.