London: The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s latest application to the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) for observer status membership was refused yesterday. This was despite the MMA governing body meeting all known criteria for sport recognition and having engaged with GAISF throughout three application processes over four years.

No reason was given by GAISF in its letter to IMMAF, which stated merely: “We regret to inform you that following a thorough discussion, the GAISF Council has resolved not to grant the GAISF’S Observer Status to IMMAF. Please be assured that we will continue to evaluate your application and reassess it in the future should you wish to request it.”

Neither was any prior notice given to IMMAF of the decision-making meeting taking place on 19 June. GAISF further declined to advise as to which representatives of GAISF were present at the meeting.

Nevertheless, IMMAF has been instructed by GAISF that its application remains active and the IMMAF CEO has expressed IMMAF’s wish to continue with it.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown commented: “Despite IMMAF meeting all known criteria, GAISF has continually refused to give any consistent or clear answers to IMMAF through our four years of willing engagement with them: They will not give any explanation for their decision. They will not tell us who was in the meeting. They will not tell us who had powers of decision over our application, nor will they tell us which combat sports have objected. They still have not explained why some martial arts have said MMA is incompatible with them. The CEO and I have been chastised for being aggressive for asking these questions.”

IMMAF CEO, Densign White, commented: “This treatment of IMMAF is as shocking as it is antiquated. International Sport would seem to be run effectively by a “Gentlemen’s Club” with no requirement for accountability, transparency, representation or any other markers of good governance, despite the impact their decision making has on sports participants and communities worldwide. We urge GAISF to emerge from the era in which the modern Olympic Movement was born and become accountable, as is demanded of every other modern governance body in every other sector. For avoidance of doubt, we have advised GAISF that we wish our application to remain active and we will continue to campaign and fight for justice”.


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