Thursday, November 24, 2005


The Catalan federation of skating will have to wait for another chance to become a member of the FIRS.
The results of today's voting, 125 against Catalonia and 43 for Catalonia, mean that another door has been closed for the Catalan's aspirations.

From catalanhockey we would like to thank all the people who have been working towards the recognition of Catalonia.
You have done a great job! Thank you


Catalan President speech to the FIRS assembly



Rome, 24 November 2005

President, members of the central committee, presidents of FIRS member federations, delegates and friends,

Together with my 18 companions on the board, I am honoured to preside over a federation with 75 years of history, older than the Spanish federation itself, which was founded 24 years later. It is a federation with 20,000 sports licences in the 4 different roller sports. We hold our own competitions in each and every sport and category, the winners of which are the champions of Catalonia. We also take part in Spanish competitions, in the same way as we would like to take part in the international competitions organised by the various FIRS committees. It is our desire to find the highest levels of competition for Catalan sportsmen and women and to take part in the best international competitions, which are none other than those organised by the FIRS. Our aim is a sporting one and, in all sincerity, we believe we have enough sporting potential to contribute positively to the FIRS and its member federations. We want to compete internationally because we are sure that we are good enough and because we believe that direct participation by Catalan skaters will help improve the standard of the competitions organised by the various international committees. Throughout the history of the FIRS, there have been Catalan champions in the three different categories and most of them would have preferred to compete internationally for the Catalan federation. We believe you are all well aware of the standard of our sportsmen and women, of the quality of the Catalan board and the service it has provided to both world and Spanish skating.

Our federation meets all the requirements established in the FIRS statutes, as was understood by the Central Committee on 24 March 2004 in Miami, when it voted unanimously on the provisional admission of the Catalan federation. But above all, it was the TAS itself which stated that, according to the statutes, the Catalan federation could be admitted. All it depends on now is your vote in favour. Therefore, I ask for your support, so that my federation may actively participate in the FIRS. Some delegations still hold that the statutes do not permit the admission of my federation. But do you really think the TAS would have demanded a second ballot if admission was not permitted under the statutes? Would the highest court in sport make us vote on an illegal decision, contrary to our statutes? Since Fresno, a process has been started with the aim of modifying the statutes and thus preventing our federation from being admitted. But the TAS has already decided that the Catalan federation’s admission should be discussed and voted on in accordance with the regulations in force at Fresno. If the statutes are eventually modified, this will not prevent my federation joining the FIRS, following approval by the Congress.

If our federation has the sporting potential which alone makes it worthy of joining the other sports federations, if the admission of the Catalan federations does not contravene FIRS statutes and the Catalan federation is not the first member federation that does not represent a sovereign state, what reasons are there not to admit our federation?

Some of those who are involved in political manoeuvres against the admission of the Catalan federation accuse us of playing politics. Again, I allow you to draw your own conclusions!

Believe me, at all times our actions have been based on sporting criteria. We do not want politics to hold sway over sport. We want to discuss sport, we want to promote skating through cooperation with all member federations. Why should we prevent sportsmen and women from competing internationally, representing their federation? Is that playing politics? We want to strengthen the bonds of cooperation between federations, especially those that are less well off. Is that playing politics?

It is a fact that our federation has signed a protocol for cooperation with the FIRS. We have signed it and done so openly. Is that playing politics? Is cooperating with the FIRS federations playing politics? We support the FIRS. It should be public knowledge and you as delegates should know that our federation, the Catalan federation, has this year subsidised the FIRS. Have we asked for anything in return? All we have done is fulfil our commitments.

Some of those who oppose our admission suggest, as if it were a threat, that if our federation enters the FIRS, it will then be open to other federations that do not represent sovereign states. But which federations do they mean? Are there so many federations that have both sporting potential and represent a nationality, as is the case of the Catalan federation? These are just speculations, ghosts that bear no resemblance to reality. I am here to say, without fear of contradiction, that our federation is a unique case and that there is no other federation in the same situation as the Catalan federation. Therefore, we ask that your vote be carefully considered, free and, above all, that it takes into account the specific, unique circumstances of Catalan skating.

Over the last year, the Catalan federation has made various proposals to help strengthen world skating: the organisation of world games, which would bring together the four sports for the first time and thus demonstrate our strength to the International Olympic Committee; the constitution of a world foundation with the aim of raising funds and collaborating with the FIRS in the promotion of our sport and in having speed skating admitted as an Olympic sport. It is possible that these proposals are the most suitable ones. But so far no-one has indicated that they are wrong, let alone why. What we have received from some people is distrust, alleging that now is not the time for such proposals. But the fact remains that immediate action is required before we reach a point when the problems are insurmountable. If these proposals are not suitable, then it is the FIRS, it is you the delegates, who should accept or reject them. Under no circumstances do they deserve to be flatly rejected.

The Central Committee, in Miami, accepted our provisional membership unanimously. Now the Central Committee recommends that you vote in favour of the opposite position, a position that was not adopted unanimously. But among this diversity of opinions in the Central Committee and the Congress, all of which are respectable if held in good faith, pressures have appeared and with them the division of the FIRS.

Yet the fact is that without the FIRS, by bypassing the FIRS or in contravention of the regulations and statutes, skating cannot remain united nor can it be admitted to the Olympic programme. We believe we can actively cooperate with you all, because above all, we play sport and therefore we would, at the very least, like speed skating to become an Olympic sport.

We have tried to find ways of cooperating with the Spanish federation and this must continue, so that, whatever your decision, both Catalan and Spanish skating may continue to progress. The Spanish federation argues that in Spain it is illegal for the Catalan federation to request membership of the FIRS. Yet the Spanish federation does not mention that Catalonia’s own legislation both permits and promotes it. By way of example, it has been 21 months since the Catalan federation was provisionally admitted in Miami. In that time, neither the Spanish government, nor the Spanish sports authorities, nor the Spanish federation itself, and most definitely not the Spanish courts, have sanctioned, warned or issued a verdict or sentence against me as president or my federation. Why not? The only verdict issued during these 21 months was that of the TAS. Again, please draw your own conclusions!

Today, here in Rome, I, in the name of my federation and thousands of Catalan sportsmen and women, ask for your support, for the good of the sport. We want to be a positive element for cooperation and believe we can be. Why should we give that up? Why are we accused of playing politics? We trust your opinion on the matter. It is for you to decide: Why should we waste the opportunity to cooperate with all those federations that are struggling to promote skating, despite the lack of resources? What political reasons can there be that are more important than cooperation between the federations of the FIRS? Is it not true that many federations cannot even afford the trip that allows them to exercise their rights and to speak as members of the FIRS?

We have the support of a people, a nation, Catalonia, with its own culture and language; we have a government whose own parliament democratically chose to approve are sports laws. All of this supports our request to be admitted to the FIRS and to be able to take part in its competitions.

I know some of you are considering voting for the Central Committee’s recommendation and you may vote against admitting our federation. We understand this and respect your decision. But I also ask that, if at any time during my speech you have thought that we are even partly in the right, i.e.:

that Catalonia’s contribution to world skating has been and is an important one;

that the FIRS can strengthen its processes of participation and democracy;

that the FIRS needs to increase its financial resources;

that the FIRS should consider greater cooperation among all its member federations;

that our mission into the FIRS is not illegal. You all know that we are here today because of a resolution from the highest sports Court, the TAS, which is linked to International Olympic Committee (IOC);

that nowadays there exist 47 other sport countries like Catalonia (England, Scotland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Faeroe Islands, etc…) that are not recognised as a state by the United Nations but who are members from different international sports federations;

that all summer and winter Olympic sports federations such as FIFA, FIBA, IAAF, have admitted as full members different stateless sports countries;

that just a month ago the International Korfball Federation recognised by the IOC like our FIRS, accepted the Catalan federation as a full member. Moreover, the president of the International Korfball Federation is the president of the internationally recognised sports federations Association (ARISF);

if you share any of these opinions, now is time to place your confidence in us and not marginalize a sports country such as ours. After the TAS’s verdict, we believe, that the only fair decision is not blocking our admission because of political reasons since we truly love our roller sports.

I am available to answer any questions or doubts raised with the Catalan federation in this congress after my speech. And consequently, I ask you to vote NO to the recommendation of the Central Committee.

Thank you for your attention. Very soon, or even today we shall become full members of this federation.

Ramon Basiana
Federació Catalana de Patinatge

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Interview with former FIRS president Oliveras de la Riva (II)

With only a few hours left until the Assembly of the FIRS begins in Rome, this is the second part of the interview with Isidre Oliveras de la Riva, former president of the FIRS.

Were there any members of the FIRS who confessed that they wold have voted for Catlonia had the voting been secret?
Yes, many. And people who explained their personal situation. As I was saying, you are a normal person and then suddenly the Spanish Ambassador appears in your office together with your Minister of Sports

Have the Catalans got as many supports as they had in Fresno?
Yes more or less. But we have worked much more on it. After Fresno's experience we have done many things differently. After the recognition in Miami and the World Cup B title in Macau everyone was too confident and euphoric. We lack of discretion. Now we have done things quietly

Is the argument that the admission of Catalonia would be a great improvement for the world's roller hockey still valid?
Yes indeed. My dad was the FIRS president from 1964 and by then roller hockey was the first most imporant skate sport, then there was nothing and then the artistic skating. When I became president in 1990, roller hockey was still the first sport but artistic skating was getting very close. Then in 1990 and 1991 in-line hockey appeared and this is killing us. And if you have a new member like Catalonia, the most important country in the world in terms of roller hockey, how can you say no?

What has Aracu done for the roller hockey?
Nothing. He and his other directors are anti-hockey. Have you seen the situation of the roller hockey un Italy? The Mariotti brothers, Bertolucci and Michielon have been playing for more than 10 years in the national team! Is that bad that they are not getting new players... Look a few days ago I was in the USA and I spoke to one of the members of the FIRS Central committee, james Pollard and he told me that if Catalonia had said that they would only compete in roller hockey for a few years, as everyone knows that roller hockey is Catalonia, they would have had a greater chance.

If in Rome thet say no to Catalonia, what will happen?
We would have to go back to the beginnings after having fought really hard to get out of there... Well not really. You must think that even if the Catalan federation loses the voting, the Spanish federation will have to understand that they have a problem: more thatn 90% of the skating is Catalan. It wouldn't make sense that the top representatives of Spain were Liceo, Alcobendas or Tenerife.
And if Catalonia wins in Rome it would be such a Big Bang that they would have to sit down and reach an agreement.
If fact that is what they should have done from the very beginning. Because in the end, this is an identity issue and in Madrid they are very sensible to these things and they don't really want to understand. Last year I spoke very often to Jaime Lissavetzky and Rafael Blaco and once to the Spanish minister of culture and all they say is that only the Spanish national team can represent Spain. But we don't want to represent Spain!

Will you be in Rome?
I have thought about it and I decided not to go. The votes that we are going to get have been more or less decided and since Sabattino Aracu and Roberto Marotta are trying to convince everyone that it is my fault that the FIRS is in this situation, I think it will be easier for everyone if I am not there. I believe it would have a negative effect on the Catalan delegation.

12 months after what happened in Fresno, would you change anything?
Yes. Maybe I wouldn't resign even if that goes agaisnt my beliefs. I mean, ethically, I am convinced that I had to present my resignation since my team and my central committee voted against what I thought it was right. However, many people have told me that it was a mistake. That in sport politics you have to be inside to be able to change something and you have to ignore the ethics and moral.

If you hadn't resigned during the assembly, would had been a secret voting?
No doubt about this. Aracu couldn't have manipulate the assembly as he did. And another thing that someone mentioned to me afterwards: we didn't have to discuss that in Fresno. We could have waited for a few more months and maybe the situation wouldn't had been that tense....

Let's hope that all the hard work that Oliveras de la Riva has put into this since he became FIRS president in 1990 pays back.
At least he has the eternal gratitude of all the Catalan people.
Gracies Isidre!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Interview with former FIRS president Oliveras de la Riva (I)

From Fresno to Roma. The Catalan hockey was fooled in Fresno and the moral triumph of the decision of the CAS has taken us to Rome.
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.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Catalan federation of Korfball has been recognised

Catalonia has been admited as full member of the International Federation of Korfball (IFK), a federation who is recognised by the International Olympic Commitee (IOC).
This is a big step forward for the aspiration of the Catalans to be able to compete internationally with their own teams and surely will have a great impact in the forthcoming assembly of the FIRS in which the re-admission of Catalonia as a full member will be discussed and voted again.

Catalonia has secured the admission into the IFK after gaining 37 votes out of 42. According to the president of the Catalan Federation of Kofball, Toni Jurado, this decision is final and there is no possible similarity to the situation that the Catalan Federation of Roller Sports suffered in the past. "A new panorama for the Catalan sport has been opened by this decision", Toni Jurado stated after the great news were confirmed.

Well done!!!

Now let's see what is the Spaniards reaction.....It won't take long!!!

For more information on Korfball visit:

Catalan korfball national team

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The FIRS assembly will be held on the 24th of November

The next FIRS assembly, in which Catalonia will have another chance to be recognised as a full member of the FIRS, will take place in Rome on the 24th of November.
Following the decision of the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport), the voting of the assembly will have to be secret and on the agenda there will have to be room for Catalonia to expose their point of view and to defend their position.
The assembly will take place during the celebration of the 2005 World Artistic championships
Official website that Rome will host from November 17 until November 27.

Catalonia participates in the World Inline Cup

The Catalan Federation of Roller Sports has sent 2 teams to the World Inline Cup which is being held in Michigan (USA).
The teams are coached by David Planes (men) and Jordi Argullos (women).
The Catalan ladies have played 3 games so far and are third in their division, after beating USA 16U girls and Australia by 3-1 and losing to USA 18U by 9-1.

Full stats and standings: Catalan women team

The men team have also played 3 games with 2 defeats to USA 18U minor and USA 18U major by 6-7 and 1-5 respectively, and one draw 4-4 against Australia.

Full stats and standings :
Catalan men team

For more information about this tournament go to World Inline Cup

It is very exciting to see that despite all the difficulties, Catalonia is still represented all over the world. By the way, where is the Spanish team?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The CAS decision can be read online

The CAS has published their decision in the case the Catalonian Federation filed against the International Roller Sports Federation (FIRS).
The document is only available in French and can be downloaded at

Happy reading!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Spaniards strike back (III)

The reactions on the Spanish side have been, as usual, very belligerent with the CAS decision.
The Spanish federation of roller sports in an official statement declared: "We respect but disagree with the CAS settlement. We are convinced that the Catalan federation will not be recognised as a full member of the FIRS. The Spanish national team is the only one who has international rights to compete internationally and the only one who will participate in the next World Cup in San Jose. The Catalan federation does not belong to the FIRS since that was the situation prior to the CAS decision."

According to the president of the Spanish federation Carmelo Paniagua, the repetition of the FIRS assembly will not alter the the previous outcome since he believes that the majority of federations agree with the Spanish position.
In the arrogant way that distinguises this individual, Paniagua said: "This is not a victory for the Catalans. This sentence will just prolong the agony of the Catalans as they will not be admited in the next assembly."

Well, I'm afraid this is not for you to decide Mr Paniagua...

Catalan reactions to the CAS' decision

The reactions to the settlement decided by the CAS have been numerous from both sides.
The encouraging resolution of the CAS has been celebrated by the Catalans as a new victory in the struggle to become an independent federation and hence to be able to compete internationally.

Rafel Niubo, Secretary of the Catalan Sports Council, stated yesterday that this is a victory for the Catalan federation: "The score is 2-1 to us now. The game is still on and this resolution give us strength because it shows that legally our dream is possible. The settlement shows that there is no law against the recognition of our federation."
Niubo sent a message to the Spanish Secretary of Sport, Jaime Lissavetzky, when he said: "we want to reach an agreement with the Spanish government. We have to redesign our relations so both national teams can compete internationally in a similar way to Great Britain with England, Scotland and Wales. However, it is not a legal issue anymore. It has now became political issue and it will only be solved with political negotitation. It has been the story of the 3 F's, Fresno, Fiasco and Fraud."

Ramon Basiana, president of the Catalan federation, stated: "we will now request the FIRS to invite us to the next World Cup in San Jose. We will also explain to the members of the FIRS rhe significance of the CAS resolution."