IMMAF-WMAA in legal threat against GAISF over membership snub
IMMAF-WMMAA, the international mixed martial arts federation, today warned that it is taking legal advice over a continuing refusal by the Global Association of International Sports Federations, the umbrella body of sports governing bodies, to grant it ‘observer’ status.
IMMAF-WMMAA, which harbours ambitions for MMA to eventually become an Olympic sport, pointed out that: “A sport must be officially recognised by GAISF before it can be considered for inclusion in the Olympic programme and before it can be recognised by many governments worldwide, affecting access to funding, professional services (medical, insurance etc.) and authority to safeguard participants.”
GAISF has refused to make public its reasons for rejecting IMMAF-WMMAA’s application for observer status, with Philippe Gueisbuhler, GAISF’s director, having told Sportcal in February: “After careful consideration, it was decided that IMMAF could not be granted observer status at this time. Out of respect for the applicant organisations, GAISF does not comment publicly on such decisions.”
Gueisbuhler did add: “However, we remain committed to continue a constructive dialogue with IMMAF and assess its application in accordance with the process and criteria described in the GAISF statutes.”
But the response has not satisfied IMMAF-WMMAA, which believes that it is the victim of political manoeuvring by other combat sports federation members of GAISF that are jealous of its success.
Densign White, IMMAF-WMMAA’s chief executive, said: “We were given no explanation at all. Over a period of three years we have done everything requested of us to gain the basic observer status at GAISF. We have also done everything necessary to become compliant with the WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] Code and we have also been rejected for that as well, since World Anti-doping Agency takes their lead from GAISF.
“We believe that we are being blocked, for political reasons, by influential representatives of other combat sports. Although we would like to resolve the situation amicably, we are increasingly frustrated about a recognition system which appears to be neither transparent nor fair. We have agreed a date in the Swiss Courts with WADA and, unless this issue is resolved in a timely manner, we will take legal action against GAISF as well.”
IMMAF-WMMAA has launched a Swiss court case against WADA, accusing it of anti-competitive behaviour.
IMMAF-WMMAA, which had previously applied unsuccessfully for full membership of GAISF, has been seeking to take advantage of the body’s newly-introduced observer status.
IMMAF-WMMMA was founded through a merger between the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation and World Mixed Martial Arts Association last year, after the lack of a single governing body for the sport was initially cited by GAISF as a reason for not granting it membership.
White said: “Having addressed this rivalry objection, we continue to be surprised by GAISF’s on-going rejection of our application and unwillingness to explain the reasons why.”