PSA and federations demand action over “embarrassing” president Ramachandran and set up Global Task Force
EXCLUSIVE: By Alan Thatcher, Squash Mad Editor
The PSA and a number of leading national federations have made an astonishing attack on World Squash Federation president Narayana Ramachandran during a stormy WSF annual meeting in Nice, France.
The PSA plan to lead a Global Task Force in partnership with squash federations from every continent to overhaul the global management of the sport. The Task Force would like a greater say in any future Olympic bids.
A 17-point document, seen by Squash Mad, criticises the WSF for the latest Olympic disaster and lays the blame right at the door of Ramachandran, who has been accused of corruption in India and has been stripped of a government award following complaints from the Indian squash community.
That case went all the way to the High Court in Delhi, where Ramachandran’s behaviour was described as “an insult to the sport”.
The dossier circulated in Nice says that: “Even if viewed in the best light, with no presumption of misconduct, his present circumstances must be viewed as a serious distraction from his role of representing the sport of squash, and certainly as an embarrassment to the sport during this important time.”
Delegates to the meeting were astonished to find that the WSF had circulated a Strategic Plan document, with the introduction stating that: “This interim strategic plan is predicated on squash being included in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo …”
This was apparently distributed two to three weeks AFTER the negative decision regarding squash’s hopes for a place in the 2020 Olympics.
In contrast, the PSA presented a 24-page, full-color brochure that was printed not only after the Tokyo decision but after the PSA Board meeting in Doha in the past few days.
PSA members are furious that their hopes of appearing in the Olympic Games have once again been shattered. Three-times world champion Nick Matthew recently led calls for change in how any future bids will be managed, and demanding more involvement from the PSA.
In this latest development, instead of complaining about the IOC, the players’ World Tour body has accused the WSF of weak management in allowing Ramachandran to build a one-man empire.
The document blames Ramachandran for sacking the highly-acclaimed bidding agency, Vero, whose specialist professional services were snapped up by surfing.
Surfing was one of five sports voted for by the Tokyo Extra Events committee for inclusion in the 2020 Games, alongside baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, and sport climbing.
Reports from the AGM reveal that, despite the furore surrounding allegations of corruption, and his failed management of the latest Olympic bid, Ramachandran had attempted to extend his own term as president. This attempt to extend his term was rejected by the delegates.
One insider claimed that when the WSF delegates were engaged in a Question and Answer session with a guest speaker whose CV included being a consultant to the 2020 Tokyo committee, Ramachandran cut off questions by announcing that the gentleman had an urgent meeting in Paris and thanked him for coming.
This was almost immediately after one delegate had risen to suggest that squash federations might stop congratulating ourselves on what a great sport we have, and how suitable it is for the Olympics, and ask the speaker to talk about squash’s weaknesses and failures, as those are far better learning tools than our successes, such as they may be.
When faced with questions about the stories emerging from India, Ramachandran suggested that this is all part of a vendetta from a few jealous rivals who don’t like him.
He also warned that anyone who “gossips” about these things may face libel or slander charges. This despite information coming from public sources and published reports of court proceedings.
The PSA document blasts the WSF Strategic Plan, saying: “The current draft reveals no progress in building the institution in any way, including finances, infrastructure, governance, mechanisms of collaboration and best practices or technology. Further, it demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the true mission or purpose for the organisation.
“In response to all of the above, the only other world body, the PSA, in partnership with federations from every continent, plan to create a Global Task Force.
“Its role will be to further analyse the current situation, to assess appropriate roles within squash that are globally required to build a solid foundation for growth in the sport, and propose changes to WSF leadership, governance and strategy.”