FEI suspends SportAccord membership

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SportAccord president Marius Vizer was critical of the International Olympic Committee and its reform agenda.
SportAccord president Marius Vizer was critical of the International Olympic Committee and its reform agenda.

The FEI has joined a growing list of international sports federations to suspend its membership of SportAccord, the union of Olympic and non-Olympic international sporting federations.

The decision was made by the FEI’s Executive Board and is effective immediately.

It follows growing unrest among international sporting bodies over the opening address given by SportAccord’s president, Marius Vizer, during its annual General Assembly in Sochi, Russia, a month ago.

Vizer launched a scathing and wide-ranging attack on the International Olympic Committee, describing the IOC system as expired, outdated, wrong, unfair and not at all transparent.

“The Olympic Games belong to all of us and we need real reforms,” Vizer told delegates.

Vizer was also critical of Agenda 2020, the major Olympic reform programme that won universal approval among IOC members early last December.

Vizer suggested it hardly brought any real benefit to sport, to international federations, or athletes. “It did not bring about more clear criteria, rules and principles,” he said.

FEI president Ingmar De Vos, commenting on his organisation’s withdrawal, said: “The FEI, alongside many other international sports federations and the Association of Summer Olympic International Sports Federations, will seek full clarity regarding SportAccord’s role and mission, including a review of SportAccord’s governance and management.”

The FEI’s membership of SportAccord will be discussed by the FEI Bureau during its June 9 meeting.

On Tuesday, Vizer issued a statement amid the growing furore, insisting he did not have a personal agenda. “Unity is paramount,” he said.

“My statement in Sochi … was meant to launch proper reforms that would result in a better future for sport.

“My intention has been and will always be to safeguard and further the interests of the international federations. My aim is to unite them and support them.”

Vizer said he was confirming meeting dates with the Association of Summer Olympic International Sports Federations, which represents 28 sports, and hoped to meet with IOC president Thomas Bach – “a meeting which I believe needs to be held for the benefit and the unity of the sports movement”.

“I look forward to open and honest discussions which are for the benefit of sport. I hope to have positive discussions which will lead to tangible solutions.”

Other sporting bodies to suspend or cut their SportAccord ties are weightlifting, wrestling, taekwondo, boxing, athletics, archery, canoeing, shooting and bobsled. Others are expected to follow suit.

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