‘We don’t need Cardinals of Sport’, Marius Vizer, President Sportaccord

Sochi, Russia, April 21, 2015: Euronews: President Vizer, that was quite the opening address at the GA… quite a bombshell that you dropped. Have you not just openly declared war on the IOC and President Bach. So, why and why now?

Mr. Vizer: So, yesterday in the opening speech, I just addressed a message to the world of sport. It was not particular to a person or any organisation. I expressed the reality of sport today. The IOC, considered the biggest sports organisation, institution, system or whatever you want, is or wants to assume the role of the leader of the sport in the world. All of us, we respect and recognise Olympism and Olympic Games. But behind that there has to be a real system.

Euronews: Are the athletes, who train hard, make people dream and nations come together in support, the real victims of what you, yourself, have described as an old, outdated system? A system that hasn’t been challenged this way before.

Mr. Vizer: I would not say that the athletes are the victims. But when we speak about the benefits of the Olympic Games, of Olympism, of big events that generate millions, and we see the reality of sport in a lot of international federations, Olympic and non-Olympic, in a lot of national federations and clubs, because in my life I am confronted with the realities of sport, not just the dreams of sport. We should combine and understand the reality with the basis of sport and dreams. And in case we are not able to balance that, it will be very difficult. I think that the Olympic Games is the most prestigious movie of humanity and the most expensive, and the only movie where the actors are not paid. And when I mean actors, I also mean their families because these athletes dedicate and sacrifice their lives for a dream, and this dream also has to sustain their existence.
Euronews: Between the athletes and their Olympic aspirations are the Federations. Are they part of the problem or the solution? Where do they fit into all of this?

Mr. Vizer: I tell the reality because I have been living in this family for many years. So, in reality that is the voice of the International Federations and I just expressed in one day, in a global message, let’s say, their voice but yesterday the IOC, instead of analyzing the content of what I said, what is true (and) what is not true, what is the next step to correct that and to offer a clear picture, started to put pressure on some of the International Federations to react, in my opinion, not in a correct way. Because, (it) doesn’t matter what are the consequences for myself personally. My voice is the voice for sport, for reality, for fairness in sport and we can sit together to have a dialogue and to correct and adapt and to transform the errors and virtues of the system, for the benefit of athletes and the society, because ultimately society is the consumer of our product, managed by the International Federations, backed by the IOC and consumed by the society.
Euronews: Soon after your speech, the IAAF resigned from SportAccord while many federations, including FIFA and FINA signed a letter claiming they did not agree with your comments and tone. Have you got any support from your federations and did you expect such a reaction?

Mr. Vizer: I am happy with the support of my spirit because what I say is true and nobody can stop that. And what I believe, and I am convinced today that it is the reality of the system, is true. According to some decisions of some international federations, you have to make a distinction in sport between people who live for sport and people who leave from sport. For those who leave, more or less exclusively from sport, it’s very attractive and very interesting to defend the system because the system, let’s say the IOC, has lots of tentacles in different directions. So the question is very simple, do we want to clean up the story or cover the story?

Euronews: You have been re-elected, unopposed for 4 years in office by these federations. What will you do if more federations decide to follow IAAF and head for the door? And not follow you on your mission for major reform within the IOC. What will it mean for you and SportAccord?

Mr. Vizer: I was a soldier and my life was long and difficult till now, and always in my strategies I have different versions. So, according to my speech yesterday you have seen that my final message is Fine Primo Tempo, so be sure that I am prepared for the second and the third step, not only with speeches but also with action and strategies.
Euronews: You mentioned the staggering sum of 450 million spent for the Olympic TV Channel and the cost of opening and closing ceremonies. Your main issues with Bach and the IOC seem to be all about money.

Mr. Vizer: The question is to clean up the system and to make it fair for the benefit of sport. Not a system that defends itself and a specific group of leaders or cardinals of sport because we don’t need that and sport doesn’t need that. I don’t care if some people are afraid to say that but I say that. We don’t need cardinals of sport. We don’t need popes. We need fair leaders who are examples for sports through their attitude, behaviour, measures, actions, initiatives, strategies and visions.

Euronews: Finally, as you know Baron Coubertin used to say ‘the most important thing is not winning and taking part’. Can we now say that for you, and for sport, in general, the most important thing is to win?

Mr. Vizer: I can tell that you that I only lost one important battle in my life which I lost in the Court of Arbitration of Sport in Lausanne a few years ago, when I lost the presidential elections for the International Judo Federation against the previous president and with clear evidence, with witnesses and lots of facts. Surprisingly, I still lost in the CAS and that was one of the important points that I mentioned yesterday, which was the CAS should be independent because I was one of the victims of the CAS.

Euronews: President Vizer, thank you very much for your time today.

Note: This interview was conducted by Euronews journalists, Pedro Lasuen and Joseph Allen in Sochi on Tuesday, April 21. The interview was first broadcast on Euronews exclusively at 21.10 CET. —- Sportaccord

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