PRESS RELEASE FROM WSCA:
12 December 2017
–The WSCA Response to the European Commission’s Speed Skating Decision–
“The World Swimming Coaches Association (WSCA) welcomes the decision of the European Commission (EC) regarding the International Skating Union (ISU) and its rules that enforced sport-slavery for its professional athletes. Nearly identical rules exist in most of the International Federations (IFs), in our case FINA, the international aquatics federation.
As delighted as we were to hear the decision of the European Commission, we were horrified to read the positions taken by the presidents of the ISU and IOC. IOC President, Thomas Bach, spoke against the European Commission’s decision, saying that it was being looked at, “….only from a business perspective, the social value of sport is lost.”
As coaches who are dedicated to Olympic ideals, we never thought slavery would be listed as an Olympic ideal. Clearly, this was only about business, because it only affected professional athletes and did nothing to change the competitive rules of the sport.
The WSCA supports the decision of the European Commission for the same reasons. Professional athletes should be free to practice their profession (swimming) without being held hostage by an international monopoly. The ISU held that the EC’s decision violated the (EU) Treaty, because it did not recognize the “voluntary” nature of sport.
The decision to participate in sport is clearly voluntary, but no athlete ever is allowed to join FINA or choose a different IF to represent his or her needs. How can it be considered voluntary if the athlete never gets to choose? To be voluntary, the person must have choices. No athlete ever joins FINA, or is given a choice as to which organization would best represent their interests.
The WSCA will call on Mr. Cornel Marculescu, FINA Executive Director, to request that FINA drop all monopolistic rules that keep FINA in the same anti-trust position as the ISU. Freedom for the athletes, not athletic slavery, is the issue. FINA must act now or face a similar outcome in court.”
-George Block, President of the World Swimming Coaches Association