The annual Congress of the European Volleyball Confederation was held on September 2 in Brussels (Belgium). This event would probably remain everyday for the average person. If it were not for the admission to participation in the meeting of representatives of Russia and Belarus suspended from all volleyball events due to aggression against Ukraine, clearly personally sanctioned by the head of the ECV, Serbian Aleksandar Borichic.
The arrival of volleyball players from the occupying states caused undisguised indignation among a significant part of the delegates. On the eve of the Congress, representatives of more than a dozen countries started talking about a boycott. However, at the start of the events, the number of active protesters had decreased significantly. The delegations of Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Ukraine refused to participate in the Congress.
“We learned about the arrival of Russians and Belarusians on Friday evening, and the Congress began in the morning. “We had no time to react,” says Mikhail Melnik, President of the Volleyball Federation of Ukraine. – In the center of Europe, in the 21st century, a terrorist country killed about 300 thousand people. It is immoral to sit down with the delegates of this country at the same table.”
“We were told that this is sport, not politics. We did not agree to the presence of Russia and Belarus at the Congress,” Sebastian Swiderski, President of the Polish Volleyball Federation, commented on his position to the Polish publication WP. – All national teams and clubs of these countries are suspended from competitions. According to the charter, those who are not active could not participate in this event. In addition, they participated in voting on important issues. We could not agree to this and, together with several countries, decided not to participate in the congress. As was the case with last year’s World Cup, which was supposed to take place in Russia, now no one was going to participate in an event with a country that had declared war on another, independent state.”
“At a time when there is a war in Ukraine, and Russians and Belarusians are not allowed to participate in competitions, the participation of their representatives in the CEV Congress is shocking and unexpected. As a sign of protest, we, together with our allies, decided not to participate in the event,” this is a quote from the President of the Lithuanian Volleyball Federation, Darius Cherki.
“Their participation in the CEB Congress is unacceptable,” says Helen Vaermae, a representative of the Estonian delegation. – As in other sports, Russia and Belarus need to be removed from volleyball. Their arrival was an unpleasant surprise. We believe that sitting next to representatives of the aggressors – Russia and Belarus – is immoral.”
It is interesting that on the CEB website there is news about the Congress, but there is not a word about the boycott of five countries. “Members of the European volleyball family gathered on September 2 in Brussels for the annual General Assembly of the EVC,” we read.
Taking this into account, the already mentioned Polish publication WP turned to a representative of the European Volleyball Confederation for comment. Federico Ferraro commented succinctly: “I can confirm that Saturday’s EVC General Assembly in Brussels took place in full compliance with the provisions of the EVC Statutes and the EVC regulatory framework, as well as in accordance with the recommendations and instructions of the IOC and FIVB.”
According to Mikhail Melnik, the unexpected appearance of Muscovites and Belarusians was due to the desire to vote for changes to the EVC Charter, according to which only persons with at least four years of experience in the European Volleyball Confederation can run for the post of president of the organization. There is a clear goal behind these changes: to replace the Serbian Boricic, who is already 75, in the 2024 presidential elections with a person no less loyal to Russia.
“We understood this, so when we declared a boycott, we delegated the right to vote for us to one of the friendly national federations,” says Mikhail Melnik. – The voting results showed that we were not mistaken. There were 26 votes for changes to the Charter, 27 against. That is, the vote that we delegated turned out to be decisive.”