SportAccord President Marius Vizer fiercely criticised the International Olympic Committee for a lack of transparency on Monday, sending shock waves through the Olympic movement.
Speaking at a SportAccord convention in the Russian resort of Sochi, Vizer called for International Federations to be given a greater say in the future of the IOC and for a fairer distribution of money.
His speech sparked an immediate backlash among some Olympic sports leaders, with the world athletics federation IAAF and the international shooting federation withdrawing from SportAccord.
Our Euronews correspondent Joe Allen met up with the SportAccord president to understand the reason behind his actions.
Joe Allen, euronews
President Vizer, that was quite the opening address at the General Assembly… quite a bombshell that you dropped. Have you not just openly declared war on the IOC and President Bach. If so, why and why now?
SportAccord president, Marius Vizer
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. We all respect and recognise Olympism and Olympic Games. But behind that there has to be a real system.
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?
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, their voice but yesterday the IOC, instead of analysing 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, they started to put pressure on some of the International Federations to react, in my opinion, not in a correct way.
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. Have you got any support from your federations?
I am happy with the support of my spirit because what I say is true and nobody can stop that. You have to make a distinction in sport between people who live for sport and people who live from sport. For those who live, more or less exclusively from sport, it’s very attractive and very interesting to defend the system because the virtues of the system, let’s say of 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?
You have been re-elected, unopposed for a four year term 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?
I was a soldier and my life was long and difficult till now, and always in my strategies I have different versions. So be sure that I am prepared for the second and the third step, not only with speeches but also with action and strategies.
You mentioned the staggering sum of 450 million dollars 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.
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 models and examples for us.