Photo: GEPA pictures
It was easy to notice the conflict during the reelection of FIS President Johan Eliasch. A small group presented a petition to protest the election procedure. The group objected to the single option on the ballot, concerned that each voter could only choose to vote for Eliasch or abstain. The petition writers requested an affirmative option, a negative option, and an abstention option.
SRM’s understanding is that this change would have contradicted the Swiss law that governs the FIS. We understand that when there is one candidate, the law states only one option can exist on a valid ballet. Using the suggested alternative ballot may have invalidated the election.
It also seems abundantly evident that the protest is a reaction to the significant changes the FIS leadership is implementing and not concern about the voting procedure. This group added to their public protest by leaving the room before voting.
We feel a need to inform our readers that Eliasch does not take a salary from the FIS. Whether you agree with him or his methods is a personal opinion, that said, it is difficult to question his intent. Evidence reveals his thoughts are consumed with ideas with the intent to benefit all FIS snow sports
President Eliasch on the record
Ski Racing Media connected with President Eliasch for comment on the situation.
Responding directly to a question about the conflict, Eliasch said, “First, I support every member’s independent voice and their right to express their opinion. Contrary to some comments, we are a democracy, and voters decide everything at the FIS Congress. So, I feel good about being reelected with a clear mandate for change. I am determined to make this a Federation for all members and not only the chosen few.”
Eliasch continued, “I am not the president of the FIS for personal gain. I am motivated only by my passion for snow sports. The FIS believes every decision we make should have a net benefit for all our sports. We cannot decide issues based on satisfying a particular person or nation.”
Eliasch also recognized the fundamental issue. “Centralization of broadcast rights is the biggest concern,” he said, “but FIS snow sports must control their destiny. The FIS must lay the foundation for growth and prosperity for all disciplines and worldwide members. We are in consultation with the national governing bodies to work out issues, and from those discussions, we will decide how we proceed. However, what seems to get lost in the media is not whether the FIS will centralize broadcast rights, but the question is only how and when.”
One thing is clear: President Eliasch currently has the mandate to move forward with change. A considerable majority has now awarded President Eliasch a four-year term, 70 votes of the possible 117 votes present. Everyone who did not vote or left the room had their reason, but arm-twisting by those presenting the petition likely forced some voters to abstain.
Ski Racing Media will continue to follow this story as more information becomes available.