National Ski Associations Refer FIS To Court Of Arbitration For Sport (CAS)

Four snowsports governing bodies have filed an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over last month’s presidential vote at global governing body FIS. FIS said an appeal had been filed to sport’s highest court by Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Croatia.

At the heart of the discontent of the major ski nations is Eliasch's plan to centralise the marketing of FIS World Cup events, stripping Member Associations of the rights.

Austria, Germany, Croatia and Switzerland told the FIS on Friday (June 17) that they were challenging the vote held at a drama-filled FIS Congress in Milan.

“‘For this reason, we have decided to have the proceedings of the FIS Congress 2022 reviewed by CAS as a precautionary measure'”, FIS said, quoting from the letter by the appellants.

Austria’s ski federation (OESV) general secretary Christian Scherer said it was the duty of the associations to make sure procedures were followed at any election, especially with only one candidate. Scherer told Reuters “We want lawfulness and we want to make sure the election is properly reviewed. We want this for now but also for the future,” 

“It is our duty to make sure of legitimacy. We have an obligation because that (one candidate) could happen to other international federations, such as biathlon later this year, where the OESV is again present.”

Swedish-born, British-based Eliasch, who has dual nationality, won another term in the elections in late May, having run unopposed after having first won in 2021. Billionaire businessman Eliasch is only the fifth FIS president in 97 years.  

Sweden's Eliasch was elected for a further four years without challenge on May 26 but the Congress was marred by walkouts from major skiing countries. A number of delegates left the room in the Italian city's Allianz Tower, with the choices on the ballot a major source of contention. Only the name of Eliasch was reportedly included, with the challenging countries insisting it should have been "yes" and "no".

Stefan Schwarzbach of the German Ski Federation said "an election in which delegates had only one option to vote validly, namely to vote yes, does not correspond to our understanding of the law and is only a farce".

The billionaire owner of sportswear brand Head was first elected last year in a contest. Eliasch promised to change race formats and presentation, and pledged to bring commercial rights in-house to gain FIS more control and revenue.

Germany’s ski association (DSV) said the appeal was unusual but necessary given that a legal check conducted by the four appellants pointed to shortcomings in applying FIS statutes. “This is not a decision that we made lightly, because we are of course aware that such an approach has not been usual or necessary in skiing up to now,” the DSV told Reuters in an email.

“It would be important if we could then get clarity as soon as possible. Due to the urgency of the matter, we assume that the CAS will not allow too much time to pass. However, it will probably take at least three months before a decision is reached.”

“FIS is confident that the proceedings of the FIS 2022 Congress were held in strict compliance with the FIS Statutes and Swiss law, as confirmed by FIS legal advisors,” FIS said.

“Furthermore, FIS believes that the allegations put forward by the four National Member Associations are entirely without merit or substance.”

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