European athletes and national federations put Europe once more on top among the continents both in the medal count and also in the number of finalists in the six disciplines at the 2017 FINA World Championships. Europe also hosted four of the last five editions of the World Championships, still, no effort seems enough to deserve a fair treatment within FINA.
When seats in the various FINA Technical Committees and Panels were allocated, Europe got far less than its real weight in the world of aquatics. Successful National Federations from Europe, investing a lot to produce quality athletes for the benefit of the Aquatic world were overlooked, while countries from other continents with no results and traditions can send a handful of members to oversee FINA activities in the future.
It is not just about lack of appreciation, it is also about endangering the further successes of aquatics on the global stage.
Chart 1 – pdf format
From the tables and statistics presented (see the attached charts), it is clear that the decisions taken by the FINA leadership do not respect the basic principles of “Good Governance” and lack any respect and appreciation towards the European athletes and National Federations who deserve to be treated with fairness.
Analysing the results achieved at the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest in the six disciplines, the figures demonstrate a painfully clear picture of this very sad situation.
Some Key Points:
+ Europe won 46% of the medals on offer
+ Europe produced 49% of the finalists in total
+ Europe accounted for 55% of the National Federations winning medals
+ Europe accounted for 59% of the National Federations having finalists
+ Europe obtained only 25% of the total available seats in the FINA Committees and Panels…
… compared with 26% of the Americas that won 28% of the medals on offer and had 25% of the total number of finalists.
22% of the seats went to Asia which had 19% of the medals and 18% of the finalists. Oceania had 11% of the seats while getting 5% of the medals and 7% of the finalists, and Africa got almost 16% of the seats while earning 2% of the medals and less then 1% of the finalists.
There are several European Member Federations who have won medals in Budapest (and Rio) and have no seats in the Committees/Panels, namely Denmark, Poland and Serbia.
Sweden, the country of Sarah Sjostrom who was the best female swimmer of the meet in Budapest, has no member in the Swimming Committee and only one in Diving.
Serbia current Men Water Polo Olympic Champion, despite producing a water polo team unbeaten for three years and winning all FINA Events between 2014 and 2016, lost its seat in the Water Polo Committee.
Greece only has one member in the Athletes Committee, Ukraine, (with 9 medals) a leading country in Swimming, Synchro (Artistic Swimming) and Diving only has one member, in Synchro.
Other LEN Members, such as Belgium, Lithuania, Norway who had finalists in Budapest (and a great tradition in Aquatics) have no seats in any Committees/Panels either.
The above mentioned cases are just few examples. Several other European Federations have also not been considered in the appropriate way.
Whilst being extremely glad that emerging countries from all over the world achieved the goal to send Members to the FINA Committees/Panels, there are some key points that outline the incoherence of the FINA decisions on the allocations of such positions.
- In Europe, the Federations with the most Members in FINA are Hungary and Spain with 7 Members respectively – compared to countries topping this list from the other Continents: in the Americas, USA have 23 Members, in Oceania, Australia has 17 Members just to pick the two most outstanding figures.
- In total, in Asia there are 15 Members Federations (with a total of 30 Members in FINA Committees/Panels) who have Members in FINA but had no finalists in Budapest 2017. Similar situation in Africa with 13 Member Federations (sending altogether 30 Members to the Committees/Panels) but with no finalists, Americas with 11 Member Federations (24 Members) and no finalists, while from Europe only 4 members Federations (with 7 Members) are represented in FINA despite having no finalists in Budapest.
- Some other examples underlining the lack of fairness in the policy followed by FINA while appointing the Members (this is not about the qualification of any individuals representing the countries mentioned below, but about highlighting how the respective NFs are treated, regardless of their achievements):
+ South Africa has 11 Members with two medals and 7 finalists
+ Egypt has 5 Members despite having one athlete earning a medal and being a finalist
+ Kuwait …. a suspended Federation ! has 4 Members with no finalists
+ Argentina has 4 members, despite having had no finalists
+ Oman has 3 Members with no finalists
+ India has 3 Members, despite having had no finalists
+ Saudi Arabia has 3 Members, despite having no finalists
+ Uruguay has 3 Members, despite having had no finalists
+ Nigeria has 2 Members, despite having had no finalists
Again, just for comparison:
+ Sweden: 1 Member (4 medals, 7 finalists)
+ Ukraine: 1 Member (9 medals, 22 finalists)
+ Denmark: 0 Member (1 medal, 4 finalists in Budapest and 2 medals in Rio)
+ Poland: 0 Member (1 medal, 6 finalists)
+ Serbia: 0 Member (1 medal in Water Polo)
Chart 2 – xls resume
4. Furthermore, Europe has been the frontrunner in hosting FINA’s biggest event and also served as a shelter for FINA.
Europe hosted 4 of the last 5 editions of the FINA World Championships:
+ Rome 2009
+ Barcelona 2013
+ Kazan 2015
+ Budapest 2017
Europe was on hand when FINA got in the state of emergency after the withdrawals of the originally chosen host cities from other continents:
+ Barcelona stepped in for 2013 instead of Dubai (UAE)
+ Budapest stepped in for 2017 instead of Guadalajara (MEX)
- FINA fails to recognise the efforts of Europe’s National Federations and athletes despite many more federations investing much more in all fields to run successful programmes and to produce quality athletes, compared to any other continents.
- FINA fails to recognise and draw on the experience, expertise and knowledge of European representatives which have been gained while organising the World Championships and the highly successful European Championships held in Aquatics every two years. This is not about putting aside qualified European representatives. The FINA Committees form an essential part of a structure which is supposed to secure smooth operations in preparing, organising and running FINA Events. Their task is to maintain the highest level in all areas to ensure that the athletes can produce their best performance. The choices of FINA are clearly working in the wrong direction. We feel the structure is in danger now and Aquatics might be derailed from its current track of success going against the interest of the athletes.
Already in the past the disrespectful attitude of FINA towards Europe and its National Federations has been denounced and the present communication confirms this inconsiderate approach. European athletes and officials deserves much more appreciation inside the FINA Family –and this would ultimately benefit FINA, its events, athletes and national federations of all five continents.