Monday, November 22, 2004

Countdown to Fresno 2004

This is the key week. The Catalan sport enter this decisive week, probably their most important in history, with their hopes that the Catalan skating federation will be recognised as a full member of the FIRS later this week.
Prior to this, on Thursday, the FIRS will have to discuss an appeal made by the Spanish Federation against the provisional admission of the Catalans that was granted last March in the FIRS meeting in Miami.
There are 12 members in the FIRS Executive Committee who will decide whether to accept or not the Spanish appeal on Thursday 25th.
The members of the FIRS Executive Committee are:
President: Isidro Oliveras de la Riva (ESP)
1st Vice-president: Ernesto Gonzalez Molina (ARG)
General Secretary/Artistisc: Roberto Marotta (ITA)
Speed: James Pollard (USA)
Inline hockey: George Pickard (USA)
Hockey: Harro Strucksberg (GER)
Europe: Sabatino Aracu (ITA)
Asia: Yoshiro Noguchi (JPN)
America: Carlos Orlando Ferreira (COL)
Australasia: Valerie Leftwitch (AUS)
Africa: Dr. Nabih el Alkamy (EGY)

All these members, with the exception of Sabatino Aracu, Yoshiro Noguchi and Dr. Nabih el Alkamy, were present in the last committee in which Catalonia was provisionally admitted to the FIRS.
As the conditions in which Catalonia was admitted have remained the same in the past 8 months, there shouldn't be any powerful reason why the Spanish appeal would be accepted.
However, Sabatino Aracu, who has expressed his interest in becoming the next president of the FIRS, has publicly critised Oliveras over the way that decision was taken and has also admitted that he is against the recognition of Catalonia. Aracu is a member of the Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, and he is expected to lead the vote against Catalonia.
Oliveras will only vote in case of a draw.

If the decision is not to accept the appeal then the final step will take place on Friday 26th at the FIRS Annual meeting.
34 countries have confirmed their attendance. The countries will have as many votes as roller sport disciplines recognised in those countries.
Confirmed countries (in brackets no of votes):
Australia (5), Colombia (5), Spain (5), USA (5), France (5), Italy (5), Japan (5), Mexico (5), UK (5), Switzerland (5), Germany (4), Argentina (4), Brazil (4), Canada (4), Chile (4), China (4), Holland (4), India (4), Portugal (4), New Zealand (4), Taiwan (4), Belgium (3), Croatia (3), Cuba (3), Denmark (3), Ecuador (3), Slovenia (3), Dominican Republic (3), Andorra (3), Angola (3), Nigeria (2), Panama (2), Paraguay (2) and Peru (2).

The voting will be secret if this is asked by 10% of the votes, which means that there are only 2 countries needed to ask for this for the voting to be secret.
A secret vote will mean that each represented will be able to vote without any pressure since no one will ever know who voted what. This is seen as an important advantage by the Catalans.
However the pressures from the Spanish government through the Spanish Council for Sport CSD, has been strong over the past weeks.
It seems that strong European countries such as Italy, Portugal or France will have agreed with the Spaniards to vote against the Catalans. The secretary of the CSD, Rafael Blanco, recently travelled around South America to convince some south American countries to vote against Catalonia. On the 8th of November, Spain and Argentina agreed to sign a cooperation agreement for the year 2005.
These countries, apart from the arguments exposed by the Spaniards, will see Catalonia as a threat to their dominance in roller hockey.
On the other hand, the Catalans seem to have the support of small south American and African countries on top of Andorra.
Although not many countries have expressed their preferences, some believe that the recognition of Catalonia would benefit a sport that is dying everywhere but in Catalonia where every week twice as many games are played as they are played anywhere else in the world.

The final 5 days!!!

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