As things stand, there is still little progress on IMMAF’s sport recognition status. We continue to work all we can for it, but with the uncertainty surrounding GAISF and its proposed dissolution, we remain in no man’s land until a decision has been reached regarding their future.
We are still waiting to learn when or how sport recognition applications will be processed and through which umbrella organisation. This is frustrating because we are seven years into the process, and all of sudden, we have to now wait for a new process to be unveiled.
We have already been through multiple application processes with GAISF, but with a new body coming in, new changes, policies and requests are to be expected. It’s made even more frustrating by the fact that other sports that have been recently accepted had political support behind them and were therefore allowed to go through a softer process, contrasting dramatically with how IMMAF has been treated.
The decision to dissolve GAISF was taken by GAISF President Ivo Ferriani, who described the move as positive. An extraordinary general meeting in September will decide their fate. If they are to be dissolved, it is unclear who will take their place. This leaves us in uncertainty about who will review applications and what that process will entail.
Our experience with GAISF is reminiscent of our previous one with WADA, for whom the process for achieving signatory status initially lacked transparency. All we are asking for is to be treated fairly and transparently, based on merit, and not subjectively, with respect to competition laws. We should not be being blocked because of other sports’ competitive concerns, which are the real root cause of the political obstacles we have endured.
In the meantime, all we can do is keep building and developing our structures and assets in youth development, officiating, coaching, and all the areas of recreational development that are fundamental to the sport and for changing the language around it, so it’s not led from the top anymore but from the bottom as sport should be. Safety is another huge priority at all levels of the sport and we must continue to ensure minimum standards are in place.
There is indeed a huge amount to do as we continue to wait, and with each passing year we become stronger. Other sports have so many years behind them. When you look at MMA, it has only recently evolved from a professional, entertainment platform and as an amateur federation we have less than a decade of developing the sport under our belts. IMMAF and its members have achieved tremendously if you want to benchmark us in the sports governance world. And yet we are still only scratching the surface. There remains a lifetime ahead for MMA to make its full impact in grassroots sport.