SA Spearfishing Team Not Allowed to Compete at World Champs 2012

Report taken from Chris Coate's blog - Coatesman

Unbeknownst to any ofthe SAUFF committee member, there was a change to the registrationprocess for competing in world events sanctioned by CMAS, from a papersubmission to a web based submission.

If any “unpaid” licences forcompeting in previous world events where outstanding then the web based registrationprocess could not be completed. Despite the full payment of over €4500 tothe organisers, we were never informed that we have not complied fully with theCMAS process. In fact there was no communication from CMAS with regards to thepayment of the outstanding licence fees. In the past there has been no problemin sorting these payments out and South African competitors have competed inzones and world events with these outstanding fees not causing issues. A number of these fees date back 4 years.

The organisers, FEGAS, and CMAS werevery aware that the South African competitors where in Spain as they competed in a friendly competitionweeks before the start of the event and had valid licences for diving in Spain. It issurprising that other Federations knew about this problem before any of theSouth African team or committee members, weeks before the start of the event.The South African side was deliberately kept in the dark and at no time didCMAS make an effort to discuss this issue with us.

Three days before the event I wentto the organisers and spoke to them about the registration and I was assuredthat everything was in order. That evening, Jaco Blignaut and I wentto drop off the flag and we were told that there was an “issue”,the same afternoon that we had received an email from FEGAS, not CMAS,informing us there was a technical issue that needed to be sorted out.

I spoke with the CMAS disciplinaryofficial who informed me that there was an outstanding internet submission thatwas required. The next morning as soon as possible I paid the outstandingamount of €485 personally and forwarded proof of payment to CMAS whoconfirmed the payment. With the help of SAUSF we completed the outstandingforms and submitted them. Despite full payment they flatly refusedto discuss the matter as they said there was a disclosure on the web site thatthese fees had to be paid 30 days before the competition. Again there was noinformation about this given to us, nor any communication from CMAS about thisprior to the boys landing in Spain,or at any time before the registration with the Spanish Federation. One wouldhave thought that there would have been some effort to communicate the factthat there where outstanding “issues” before the massive effort ofthe South African competitors.

For three days I fought to get the boyspermission to be able to compete. We had complied with all the outstandingrequirements as soon as we knew about them. This was the first time theserequirements were implemented. CMAS could have allowed us to compete,but decided against it due to a technicality.

I cannot explain how gutted anddisappointed I was with the treatment of an issue that could easily have beenresolved. The South African competitors have sacrificed more than most as weare self-funded and all full time employees. This means not only having to payin full for the trip themselves but also having to take up unpaid leave in someinstances or forgo job opportunities.

SA spearfishing was made a politicalexample of on purpose as we are a tiny federation with little recourse and wewere used as a pawn to “make a point”, but were a significantthreat in terms of competing for the top spots.

Making a point of disallowing us toparticipate goes against the very nature of what sport is about. Puttingpolitics before fair competition highlights how CMAS, in my opinion, haslost sight of what they are there for.

There could have been many other ways ofresolving this issue positively and in the best interests of competitive sport.We are desperately unhappy with the attitude of the regulating authorities andcannot understand why this prevailing attitude should be allowed to continue.It is surely not in the best interests of building this sport for the future.

I have organised a meeting with theSouth African authorities on Monday the 16th July to discuss away forward and will keep all those involved informed on any progress.

Yours Sincerely,


Iain Ewing