Statement of AFVD Presidium regarding the IFAF Congress July 17, 2015
The part of USA Football Inc. within the international association
At this year's congress a landmark decision was taken regarding the part USA Football Inc. plays within the IFAF. The main issue concerned the question whether USA Football Inc. is entitled to represent the United States as a member of the IFAF and, in fact, to control the international association by taking over the executive board and the accounting management. USA Football Inc. is a business company, and not an association with single members or regional associations as indirect members. There are no members as such but a board of directors and a managing committee. The latter contains six seats whereby four are taken by the NFL through the NFL Player Association ex officio. USA Football Inc. is not organizing own league operations, although IFAF regulations require own league operations under the umbrella of the respective member as mandatory membership criteria. The company USA Football Inc. has an annual turnover of USD 18 million, and a profit of USD 1.6 million. The managing director receives an annual salary in the mid-six-figure range.
Position of the AFVD regarding the role of USA Football Inc.
The board of the AFVD, and an increasing number of other national federations, hold the view that the IFAF should by all means cooperate with USA Football Inc.. However, due to the completely different structure of USA Football Inc., the company is not compatible with the other national federations within the IFAF. For a company with a turnover of USD 18 million it might be usual practice and appropriate to charge an entry fee of USD 38.000 per national federation for a world championship in the US to cover all costs. In this scenario, USA Football Inc. acts as an event agency via invoice, whereas the organization of the world championship is paid by the participants.
As a non-commercial association the AFVD considers the attempt to charge amateur athletes for the participation at a tournament against the background of already existing yearly profits of USD 1.6 million as incompatible with the purpose to promote the sport. Instead of this, the organizers should exert all efforts to provide except for travel expenses a participation at the tournament free of charge, as successfully practiced by the Austrian association with respect to the World Championship 2011 and the European Championship 2014 or the AFVD with respect to the European Championship 2015 and the European Junior Championship 2015.
The thinking in terms of business would result in breaking up the structure of national federations and transform them into satellites as already happened with the former model of success EFAF, while the European football still suffers from its destruction.
Review of the AFVD in respect of awarding the world championship to Canton
The AFVD has always resisted against the international point of view, but could not convince the majority of other members with its arguments. This also happens with respect to the proposal to postpone 2015 world championship by one year and not assign the tournament to Canton after the failure of Stockholm. It did not matter for the IFAF executives that there existed other alternatives, like assignment of the tournament to China which would not cause starting fees and accommodation costs for the participants, but would also involve travel allowance. This application, with an already signed hosting contract by the organizers, was discarded in favor of the championship in Canton. Potential hosts with large experience who had proven their expertise many times, like the Austrian American Football Association (AFBÖ) were not even taken into account.
World Championship 2015 in Canton
The 2015 World Championship hosted by USA Football Inc. in Canton is over now. Only seven out of twelve qualified teams competed. The tournament took place nearly without audience. The group stage top match USA vs. Japan, played on a Sunday was visited -according to official figures- by an audience of 500 people. The other matches, without US participation took place without any visitors. The third place match had -according to official figures- an audience of 250 viewers, while nothing is known about TV broadcasting besides ESPN 3.
The final of 2011 World Championship, hosted by the Austrian American Football Association (AFBÖ), took place in the Ernst-Happel-Stadium in Vienna and was visited by 16,000 18,000 spectators with live broadcast on television.
IOC Recognition of IFAF and presence of the IOC at the world championship in Canton
So far, IFAF is only provisionally recognition by the IOC. The final decision about the recognition has to be made at the next IOC Session 2016. In the context of the current review process by the IOC, IFAF has to present, instead of a tournament with record attendance of twelve nations and great spectator numbers like 2011 in Austria, a championship without spectators and only seven participating teams. IOC itself was represented by a high-ranking member in order to get first-hand look.
Good Governance in IFAF
Another substantial requirement for the recognition by the IOC is the compliance with the principles of good governance of the IOC. In light of the divers scandals in the global sports, this issue receives much more importance, compared to the situation before 5 or 10 years. Associations that have problems with respect to this topic would not have any chance, even if they already recognized by the IOC provisionally or permanently they have to satisfy the state of the art.
The IFAF executive could neither present the annual activity report for 2014 nor the budget plan for 2016 nor the plan of action for 2016 before the 2015 general meeting as intended by the IFAF statutes. The financial report 2014, including the annual financial statement, balance, as well as income and loss statement consisted of two 2 pages. This was delivered to the national associations two weeks before the congress, while the statues require at one month.
Certified Auditor revokes audit report / no discharge recommendation for the executive board
In connection with the financial report 2014 the member associations receive a certificate and the audit report of the independently public ordered CGA (certificated general accountant). However, this audit report was revoked by the CGA at the morning of the congress and the already distributed (positive) audit report including the discharge recommendation for the executive board was replaced with an audit report which recommends to postpone the discharge of the executive board because the accounts have not been signed by the president.
Before the IFAF congress, the IFAF Presidium including Mr. Roope Noronen (President of the Finnish national association/ until Friday Vice-President of IFAF) and Mr. Scott Hallenbeck (Managing Director of USA Football Inc. / until Friday Treasurer of IFAF) has spread the information that Mr. Tommy Wiking (President of IFAF) is no longer IFAF president since he withdraw from his office and the executive accepted is resignation.
In contrast to this, Mr. Wiking stated several times that he never resigned. A written declaration of his resignation could not be presented by the IFAF Presidium until today. According to Mr. Wiking such a declaration does not exist.
Under the impression of the relevance of good governance for IOC with respect to ongoing acknowledgment process, the AFVD executive board consulted specialized lawyers in sport and association laws in Paris (where the IFAF has its legal seat and knowing the IFAF is organized under French law). They came to the conclusion that Mr. Wiking is still president of IFAF. Also the consultation of three law professionals from IFAF member associations with knowledge about French association laws came to the same results: Mr. Wiking is still IFAF president.
Nevertheless, the IFAF Presidium under leadership of the then IFAF vice-president Roope Noronen has declared the position of the president as vacant and announced a special election. For this position the IFAF vice-president Roope Noronen nominated himself.
Blockade of the session presidency at the IFAF congress
Before the beginning of general assembly on July 17th 2015, the remaining IFAF Presidium denied Mr. Wiking the entrance to the podium position of the session chair. However, Standing orders for Congress that is part of the IFAF regulations states in article 1 that the President chairs the Congress. Thereon, the IFAF congress was held in a different room of the congress hotel under the leadership of president Wiking. 22 national associations participated at the IFAF congress.
President Wiking received the vote of confidence by a secret ballot and Mr. Hallenbeck and Mr. Noronen were deselected from the executive board due to their former behavior.
Fundamental decision for the world football
The IFAF was mainly founded for two reasons: first to organize the world championship and hence for the interchange of sportsmen/-women and to promote the international understanding and the idea of competition, and second, for receiving acknowledgment of the IOC with respect to the Olympic Program and hence to get resources that allow IFAF itself and the member associations to improve training and competition conditions.
If IFAF is no longer capable to meet these requirement, it questions its right to exist.
Position of the AFVD
The Presidium of the AFVD focuses on acting in compliance with principles of good governance. This means for the delegates of the AFVD, together with the other 21 national associations, that they dissociate from the prevalent part of the executives and to express this with their voting behavior.
As usual the Presidium will inform you about the future occurrences.