Aussie Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren Quits FINA: When Will Matt Dunn & Co Wake Up?

Jacco Verhaeren, right, with team coaches - Swimming Australia

Editorial: Australian head coach Jacco Verhaeren has resigned from the coaches commission of FINA, the International Swimming Federation, in protest at what he describes as a lack of leadership and backing for clean sport. “I don’t think me leaving will make any difference but at least I am giving a signal to the world swimming community that this needs to improve.” Snap. Good for him. Now, over to you Matt Dunn, Athlete’s rep on the FINA Bureau, and many more who know that what Verhaeren says is the truth of it. What are you doing about it? When do you suppose you might conclude that the gravy train has left the tracks on substantial issues and you ought to either press for serious change or join the Dutchman and others in making the point that a federation refusing to listen to its stakeholders is not one worth supporting.

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Comments

commonwombat

Perhaps he’s (Dunn) seen that his position may be just pure “window dressing” with zero real capacity for meaningful input ? Would he have the unconditional backing of his own national federation should he rattle some cages ?

I do not have the answers to these questions but realistically, until the major institutional stake-holders and a wide cross-section of the major swimming nations decide enough is enough/that an ultimate crisis point is imminent; the liklihood of change (however necessary or desirable) is low.

Perhaps he SHOULD have resigned in high dudgeon; that may’ve been the heroic and noble thing to do ….. but to what meaningful impact ? In all honesty, none really. Maybe a couple of fringe media articles but nothing more. Would his home federation have backed him all the way, the AOC ….. not 100% the political calculus would’ve added up in his favour. Such is sporting real-politik

Craig Lord

Weak position and argument, that CW. It sounds way too much like so many other tales of the untenable, from the insignificant weakness of human nature, through the self-servers and on to the SS soldier or the GDR sports scientist who said: well what would you have me do? Dunn and Co face no coercion, nor are they getting their main points on athlete interest and best interest of swimming to a place that changes in significant fashion the lot of the community they are supposed to serve and the culture of the body they are a part of. Instead, their good names are tarnished by association with a poor to bad organisation that has consistently done harm through inaction and refusing to take responsibility when it ought.

commonwombat

Oh, they certainly are not coerced to not “rock the boat” but just what ARE the terms of reference of these “athletes representatives” ? What does it actually entail ? Are there any voting powers or is it purely “consultory”/essentially window-dressing with zero binding impact ?

I’ll certainly grant that he cannot be seen as a hero and the time-server tag may well be warranted …… but was there ever any real capacity for him to achieve anything meaningful ?

Good on Verhaeren for resigning from this post but therein lies the core issue. His FINA role was essentially meaningless. Does his resignation perhaps frees up his time to some very minimal degree but does it change the big picture ?

Singing “fight the good fight”, heroic speeches and mission statements are all very well but what did Joe Stalin reply to Churchill “how many divisions does the Pope have ?”

How many national federations are currently in favour of the schism that you are propounding ?

Corporate interests are, by nature, the definitive political wind-socks but how many are “on side” ?

Its one thing for swimmers to “make statements” about who’s clean/who’s not but just how many will be willing to potentially go against their own federations/intl gatekeepers to the biggest events in their sport ? Outside the US NCAA, which is its own self sustaining circus, I’m struggling to see it.

Whilst I can agree with you conceptually on what should happen; the McLaren Report has not as yet proven the catalyst factor.

Yes, your point about

Craig Lord

CW:

“… was there ever any real capacity for him to achieve anything meaningful ?” … if we follow what they say and what the constitution holds out as possible, yes.

“Does his resignation perhaps frees up his time to some very minimal degree but does it change the big picture ?” Yes, it does… if more big names who hold down responsible positions follow and those who don’t have big names are left propping up the shop, the shop will fall all the more readily – and swimming can start to rebuild with different materials.

Singing “fight the good fight”, heroic speeches and mission statements are all very well but what did Joe Stalin reply to Churchill “how many divisions does the Pope have ?” – irrelevant – no-one is asking for heroics, just asking those who know they are getting nowhere to step down and stop propping up a house of cards by their very presence and their lending their status to something that fails to match the professionalism it took to achieve that status by a wide, wide margin.

How many national federations are currently in favour of the schism that you are propounding ? More than you think under certain circumstance

Corporate interests are, by nature, the definitive political wind-socks but how many are “on side” ? – Same as the last answer

Its one thing for swimmers to “make statements” about who’s clean/who’s not but just how many will be willing to potentially go against their own federations/intl gatekeepers to the biggest events in their sport ? Same as the last answer.

“…McLaren Report has not as yet proven the catalyst factor.” Patience. Ask Saruman – the dam will not hold 🙂

I appreciate your points, CW but nothing gets done by asking endless questions – at some point, it is answers that must be sought and solutions delivered. That’s what some have been working on, for they have come to a view that battle with FINA is no longer the place to place energy.

longstroke

I agree with you entirely, Craig. The resignation of Jacco Verhaeren might be seen as gesture politics by some but if enough people did the same it could be the catalyst for real change. FINA is shambolic in the way it is run and does not represent its true stakeholders. Yet it is the gatekeeper. Why? Because there are people like Jacco Verhaeren who have earned respect in the wider swimming community who are used by FINA to give it a veneer of professionalism and good governance. If enough people did the honourable thing and walked away the house of cards would fall.

Craig Lord

Spot on, longstroke

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