FAI President's letter - September 2011

Dear Air Sport Friends,

First of all, my warmest greetings to our new Secretary General, Jean-Marc Badan. I am sure you join me in wishing him all the very best in his new and challenging position as FAI Secretary General. You know he is well established within the air sport world and I am sure he will be just the right person for FAI, now and in the future. At present, he in close co-operation with Stéphane Desprez updating himself on the various issues Stéphane has been pursuing. Also, again, all our best wishes to Stéphane in his new job at FIM.

The General Conference is coming up and I want to take this opportunity of to say that I am looking forward to welcoming you to Belgrade in October ! If you have not registered yet – do it now !

At the General Conference (GC) in Dublin last year a new President and a new Executive Board (EB) was elected and the Strategic Task Force report was presented and accepted as a tool for progress. At this GC we will report on our work.

1. The Vice President issue

During the spring the EB looked at how to develop FAI towards being a more global federation. We have eight regions but this concept is used primarily for competition and records and we do not have any representatives on a regional level. Although some FAI Vice Presidents  independently represent FAI at various events and in negotiations with some international bodies, there is no real framework for this work nor is there a strategy for the development of sports in our regions - the exception possibly being the Memorandum of Understanding FAI has with Europe Air Sports (EAS). There are many countries that practice air sports where we have no point of contact! I wish to stress that our intent is not to regionalize FAI; on the contrary, it is to strengthen FAI.

So we thought we needed a regional representative, the suggestion being that the FAI Members (NACs) in the region could nominate a suitable person for us to consider. We decided to call this person the FAI Regional Vice President (RVP). We then ran into a semantic conflict with the term Vice President (VP). That’s why we proposed to change the present VP to more of an ambassadorial position. Frankly, the fact that we have 49 VPs could also be misleading for those we meet.

We then consulted with the Commission Presidents at our meeting with them in May.  The concept of changing the VPs titles was strongly opposed. The value of being a VP was brought forward with examples. Similar opposition was heard at the subsequent informal NAC Presidents meeting in Rome in August. There had also been considerable e-mail discussion on the subject. This concern is understandable and natural.

Of course, I am glad so many are pleased to be FAI VPs. And I was similarly glad to hear examples when this status has been very useful promoting air sports. The purpose of consultations is to listen and adjust, and that’s what we have done.

EB now proposes that a FAI Regional Management Structure will be established. A RVP will be appointed for each region. The RVP will be part of the FAI executive management and report to the President and the EB.

The purpose of creating this position is to give assistance to NACs and Air Sport Commissions ASCs) in influencing national and/or regional organizations, and help promotion and recruitment in the region. So, right now we do not intend to change the present FAI VP system, meaning we will retain the existing setup.

So our proposal is that we will have VP for (region), VP for (Member state) and VP for (Airsport). A more detailed paper on this will soon be sent to you. I am grateful to all who have contributed to the progress of this issue. I personally feel RVPs can be an excellent tool for GC, EB and Commissions for promoting our sports regionally and representing FAI when needed and suitable.

2.    The accounting and the budget

Another issue is the handling of accounts, accounting and money flow.  

We have had a group, the Finance and Reporting Task Force (FRTF) that I mentioned in my earlier letter and they have done a great job coming up with the proposal for consolidated accounting and budget systems. The group was composed with two ASC Presidents, two NAC Presidents and two EB Members.

The consequences of this have been less than well communicated by me, opening for misunderstandings, interpretations and even suspicions of a hidden agenda. I can assure you there is no change regarding how ASC can use and invest funds they have contributed to accumulate on behalf of the FAI. No change. “FAI Central” is not “stealing ASC money”. Nor are we planning to use it for anything else.

However we have determined mechanisms to allocate money to common projects for the development of air sports.

As responsible for the FAI finances I and EB approve the budgets and the major expenses, looking at the overall picture, particularly should one ASC need help. Guidelines for ASC budget submission have been published for clarification.

Regarding the consolidated budget for 2012 the same information will be shown as for previous years, however the 10 ASC budgets will be merged as well as shown separately. In the same way we have a consolidated financial statement. The ASC contributions to the FAI reserves, retained for future use for ASC, will be identified in a table, the same as before.

3. FAI Management Structure

Since the GC we have analysed the overall structure of the FAI, including the roles and responsibilities and processes, to improve our system so that it is more efficient and able to do better support our members. We will present the results of this work at the GC with a proposal for a clearer overall structure and roles, with well defined tasking and reporting processes, less overlapping of duties and a reduced administrative workload in the HQ.

One of the key processes we looked at is the role of CASI. CASI is responsible for the Sporting Code General Section and for the FAI Sporting Appeals process. Looking through the General Section you will find that the issues are mainly related to competition and record issues for our air sports. We are therefore proposing that we transfer the responsibility for the General Section from CASI to the ASC Presidents (ASCPs) Group - after all, they are responsible for the development within their sports. In addition we propose to set up a permanent separate Appeal Board. This means we will not need to have a CASI in the future. I am however, well aware of the strain on ASCPs and will discuss this issue on the coming ASCP meeting.

4. Statutes Working Group (SWG)

The SWG is responsible to the GC to review proposed changes to the Statutes for accuracy and possible collateral changes or implications. This is excellent and very necessary. However, up to now, the SWG has not been available to assist the EB with drafting possible Statute changes, which the EB feels would be of great assistance. So we are proposing a change to the SWG terms of reference. Also at this GC I will propose a new composition of the SWG, as we do every 2 years.

5. Anti-doping issues

There will be a presentation of the anti-doping work in general and the “Out-of-competition testing pool” concept. As you might be aware, and as I mentioned earlier, as a recognized Olympic Federation FAI has to comply – as all other Olympic Federations – with WADA rules. I have however put the “out-of-competition testing pool” on hold until after our discussions at the GC. My reasons for doing so are that we are still in the process of developing our internal processes for managing this testing pool and also because it became evident, as we tried to implement the regulations, that we had not informed or educated the athletes or commissions sufficiently about how the process works and the requirements placed on individuals.

We will also have discussion on other topics of common interest; please see the Agenda.

As I write these lines I am travelling visiting several of our members. I hope one result of this will be that we are able to recruit new Active Members. I am also meeting several major organizers of air sport events to discuss with them how we can promote the events so that they become more public and media friendly.

In China, for instance, where I make several stops, they are putting up a number of friendly Festivals with “light” competition, making air sports less complicated, and with the results more readily available. It is my strong feeling that this is the way that we can get the public and media attention we so badly need.

I and my Executive Board have been at your service now for one year. It has not been easy, but who said it would be?! We have tried to serve you according to the instructions we received from the GC in 2010 and your expectations. Our mission is strategic but over the past year too much of our effort has been consumed by “bush fires”. I hope to see less of those and more of progress. It is my strong belief that only by, together, building a strong brand can we achieve what we all need; respect for airspace, less regulation and costs, more competition and records and – of course – more and more persons involved in airsports around our World.

Best regards,      

John Grubbstrom      
FAI President