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Coaches Ask FINA Exec: Why Fear Debate?

Sep 2, 2010  - Craig Lord

The World Swimming Coaches Association will tomorrow call on the FINA Executive to abandon what it sees as attempts to stifle debate about planned changes to the international federation's constitution next year.

Representatives from three continents and members of FINA's own legal commission have been told that there will be no consideration or vote on proposals for change that they have worked on together, while federations have been told that the Congress vote will be on proposals submitted by the ruling executive of three, namely: Dr Julio Maglione, the president of FINA; Paolo Barelli, Hon Sec of FINA and head of the Italian federation; and Cornel Marculescu, Executive Director.

A paper circulated for consideration at the ASCA World Clinic in Indianapolis poses the question: "So, exactly what does the FINA Executive fear by having legislative proposals submitted by National Federations considered at the Extraordinary Congress in July 2011?

The paper then goes on to provide 10 of the many proposals that the FINA Vice-Presidents from Asia, Europe and the Americas have had set aside by the FINA Executive for no good reason, says the world coaching body. The ten points that will not see the light of day unless the FINA Executive has a change of heart [SwimNews comment in brackets]:

1. The FINA Athletes Commission would be elected by their peers - the athletes competing at the FINA World Championships - and would represent all disciplines and all continents [a better scenario than one in which synchro swimmers get to have a say on racing and racers get to have a say on synchro, with reps chosen by politicians]

2. The FINA coaches commission would be elected by their peers - the national team coaches at the FINA World Champinships - and would represent all disciplines and continents [good idea, as above]

3. The Chairmen of the Athletes and Cooaches Commissions would be chosen by the members of each commission and would become non-voting, ex-officio members of the FINA Bureau (voice, but no vote) [not before time]

4. The FINA executive would include six members - the President and the Vice-President elected by the five Continental Associations, thus providing a direct communication link to the Continental Associations [a strong position and world inclusive in keeping with FINA's role in charge of aquatics sports worldwide]

5. The program at Continental Association events could be modified without FINA approval, to enable testing of new concepts, events and procedures [great idea, for in that way, things that work, rather than weak experiments, get to survive the journey to the biggest pond: FINA has nothing to fear from a move that can only strengthen the sport and keep in vibrant]

6. The positions of Honorary Secretary and Honorary Treasurer would be eliminated, in recognition of the current role and function of the FINA Office, which has made both positions unnecessary because there positions duplicate in-house functions/services [correct - and those roles belong in the realm of the professional, full-time job, FINA a body that handles vast contracts and huge sums of money]

7. Continental Association elections would be conducted at their regularly-scheduled meetings in the period before the FINA general Congress, and the results would be ratified at the FINA General Congress, thus minimising last-minute politicking [a point that carries great resonance after the sorry events leading up to the 2009 Congress]

8. The FINA Disciplinary Panel would be governed by due process procedures that guarantee fairness (e.g., timely hearing, right to representation by counsel, right to be informed of alleged rules violations, etc.) [Fairness counts - and it should count in all circumstances at the heart of an organisation that prizes fair play]

9. A National Federation Member of FINA must conduct elections at least once every four years, thus ensuring democratic principles

10. The expulsion or suspension of an individual for 'bringing the sport into disrepute' would be narrowly defined as "openly questioning the integrity of FINA or a technical official without factual proof", thus promoting free-speech principles, particularly for athletes and coaches who express their opinions about the sport and its conduct