Thursday, November 18, 2004

Full interview with Isidro Oliveras, president of the FIRS

Oliveras: Catalonia v Spain, why not?
The most powerful man in roller skating says that Catalonia has met all the requirements in order to become a full member of the FIRS. Although Oliveras is in the line of fire, he seems to be managing the situation very well.
Oliveras is aware of the importance of this and is trying to avoid the various political pressures. He is convinced that the roller sport will benefit hugely from the incorporation of Catalonia.
For this reason, he explained to all the members of the FIRS committee what his position was in this issue and now he is receiving the criticism of the Spanish nationalism and the Spanish Olympic Committee has started a disciplinary action against him.

What is your reaction to the disciplinary action started by the COE?
I think it is normal. The COE is a private body and has the right to start any disciplinary action. Is it fair? I do not know. I have no criteria, it is their decision and I respect it.

What has changed since the provisional recognition of Catalonia last March?
Nothing substantial has changed. The conditions remain the same and Catalonia was admitted because they had met all the requirements of the FIRS.
The only thing that has changed is the media and the political interest. I think that this is a good thing if it means talking more about our sport.

Is your opinion still the same?

What was the purpose of the letter you sent to the members of the FIRS Executive Committee ?
I wanted them to know my ideas with regards to this issue, and I sent that letter 12 days before so they would have enough time to analyse the situation.
As a president, it is my duty to explain to my colleagues what I think.
I am sure that Joan Laporta (FC Barcelona president) would give his opinion on whether Barca has to sign Ronaldinho or not. Then the other vice-presidents can say whether they agree or not.
I am not a judge that has to be neutral. The fact the Spanish press got hold of that letter can be considered an act of disloyalty by someone in my committee.

Have you received any pressures during the last week?

Will you vote during the Executive Commission in which the appeal of the Spanish federation will be considered?
No, the vote of the president will only be used to settle a possible draw.

What do you think it will happen in that Executive Commission meeting?
I have no idea. We will let everyone expose their ideas, but I have to emphasise that things haven’t changed since last March when Catalonia was provisionally admitted to the the FIRS.
It would be a contradiction to change our mind now.

Is this the most important issue you have had to face since you became president of the FIRS?Definitely not. Maybe the one with the most media interest, but in my many years as a president I have dealt with more important issues.

You talk about being president for so many years, are you considering announcing your resignation?
Clearly, if my colleagues don’t support my ideas, it will not be possible for me to continue as president. My continuity is linked to the final decision on the Catalan issue.

Why do you think it is good for the FIRS that Catalonia becomes a full member?
Because they meet all the requirements and because it is always good to add up, especially when we talk about a first class country in roller hockey where more than 400 games are played every weekend. The roller hockey sport is dying because from 43 national teams that played the last world cup we only have 30 now.
The survival of roller hockey might depend on the recognition of Catalonia and that is why I support 100% the admission of Catalonia as full member.

Do you understand the position of the president of the Spanish federation Enrique Garcia Raposo?
Totally, he defends his position and although I understand it, I don’t share his opinion.

Can you see a Catalonia v Spain?Why not?
I can’t see a reason why that game couldn’t be played.
The Spanish government say that the law doesn’t allow it, but the FIRS is a private body, that has its own regulations and the Catalan federation is within those regulations.
We cannot rule ourselves by the rules of all the different countries. Besides, the laws change over time and I can’t see a reason why this law could not be changed.

How is your relation with the Spanish Sport Council (CSD)?
Excellent. Jaime Lissavetzki, Rafael Blanco and Manolo Fonseca, are all very dialogant people. I have no problems with them.

It wasn’t like that with the previous Spanish Sport Council, was it?
The problem was not with the CSD. There was no dialog with the Secretary, Juan Antonio Gómez-Angulo.
He called me “bad Spaniard” and “miserable” but that is part of the past.


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