Oliveras de la Riva, former president of the FIRS is now helping the Catalan federation. However, a year ago the Catalans were full of optimism, now they are full of doubts.
Only 6 days to go. From the chaos of Fresno to the eternal Rome going through the efficiency of Lausanne and the CAS. In 12 months Oliveras de la Riva has gone for being the president of the FIRS to encouraging the Catalan aspirations.
Just after your resignation, you said that you would help the Catalan Federation at any time. Has this happened?
After my resignation I felt relieved. I never said I was neutral. I always fought for what I thoughg it was right and yet from a sportive point of view, no one, absolutely no one can argue that the admission of Catalonia wouldn't have a great postive impact in the sport of roller hockey.
What I have been able to do for Catalonia now is to use my contacts and experience to help them to get the support they need.
Has the Catalan Federation any option this time?
Yes. Right now we have at least the option to have an option. In Fresno, during my speech I advise the FIRS Assembly that we had to respect the law, otherwise the FIRS would have to go to the CAS and that would cost us lots of money. And it proved me right. I didn't want this to happen. But the tension was too high that the Assembly became a disaster and the basic principles were ignored.
The Catalan federation won the CAS appeal and this was the first victory. The second, and possibly the most important, was the sentence stating that with the FIRS statutes in Fresno, the recognition of the Catalan federation was legal. However these statutes have now changed.
That is the reason why the Assembly has to be repeated.
In addition the voting will be secret and this is very important in such a sensible environment. It is very different what people will say in public that what they would say if it was a secret voting.
So, is the Catalan federation favourite to win in Rome?
I believe that only a state can beat another state. I could imagine that but it was all confirmed in Fresno. If Mr Moratinos (Spanish Secretary of International Relations) gets on the phone and rings his a minister in Uruguay, Chile or Brasil, this has an enormous power and influence. "Hey listen, there is something about skating in Catalonia and Spain and you must...." "Ok?" This is extremely powerful. Especially when we are talking about undervelop countries in which the poor president of the skating federation gets a visit of his Prime minister in a Mercedes to tell him that they shouldn't allow Catalonia to go through...
Has Catalonia got more options now though?
Of course. Many more. Fresno was a farse and even though everything was planned they didn't dare to have a secret voting.
And now, we are pessimistic. Look, when that was over we started to work towards today. I started helping a group of people who are working very hard to get this right. We were sure that the Assembly would have to be repeated. They scored with handball, offside and with the referee admiting his mistake! And then there were two things we had to do. The first one is to get to this Assembly as losers, because then the opponent feels that everything is under control and relaxes. The second is to avoid a tense atmosphere. About 60% of FIRS delegates didn't really care about the political implications but they were overwhelmed by the tense atmosphere and the discussions that took place on that day.
Now, I'm not saying that we will be successfull on the voting.
But this time Sabattino Aracu, has had plenty of time to put everything together?
Yes, but I had the same power and we lose. In Miami, the central commitee decided to admit Catalonia by 9 votes to 0. In Fresno we lose 6 to 3. So the power of the president is relative.
In Fresno Aracu warned the Assembly of the effects that the admission of Catalonia would have in the options of being recognised as an Olympic sport.
Yes, and it has proved that he was wrong. In March we provisionally admited Catalonia and in September the IOC selected us as one of the 5 final sports to become Olympic. In November, Catalonia wasn't finally admitted and then in July the IOC didn't admit us.
When I have talked to people from the FIRS I have told them that voting for Catalonia is a legal act and this has been proved by the appeal to the CAS and that the arguments of Sabattino Aracu with regards the Olympic options were completely wrong. FIFA has 24 federations that are not proper estates and football is an Olympic game.
The IOC has no power to influence the decisions of private federations.
Very interesting....more to follow.