IMMAF–WMMAA is taking legal advice as the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) continues to reject IMMAF’s application for “observer” member status.
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.
IMMAF-WMMAA Presidents Kerrith Brown and Vadim Finkelchtein and CEO Densign White recently attended the annual GAISF SportAccord Convention in Gold Coast, Australia, seeking clarification as to why their application was rejected in February.
White stated: “We were given no explanation at all. Over a period of 3 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 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 is responsible for the amateur sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and aims to standardize rules and regulations, ensure structures are in place to monitor the health and safety of participants, improve the quality of licensed referees and judges, develop qualifications for coaches, creating competitor rankings, and, eventually, produce world champions and Olympic stars.
“During our application process for recognition, GAISF informed us that the greatest obstacle to MMA being accepted was rivalry from within the sport,” said White. “This was due to competing claims from two world MMA governing bodies, IMMAF and WMMAA. In 2018, our two organisations merged, bringing together the best, and we have continued to work hard to unify the sport. 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.”