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FIS president Kasper to step down after 22 years

The International Ski Federation has announced that its long-standing president, Gian-Franco Kasper, will step down next May after 22 years in the job. 

Kasper’s decision was announced at FIS’s autumn council meeting in Constance, Germany. He will formally leave the role at the FIS Congress in Thailand next year. 

The move marks the end of a 45-year association with FIS. Kasper was named as secretary general of the organisation in 1975, before being elected president in 1998. 

In that time, he has grown FIS’ membership from 100 nations to 133, while increasing the number of skiing and snowboarding medal events at the Winter Olympic Games from 33 to 55. 

However, Kasper has courted controversy in recent years. He was forced to apologise in 2017 after comparing Russia’s doping-related ban from the 2018 Winter Olympics to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.

In February of this year, he climbed down after referring to “so-called climate change” in an interview with a Swiss newspaper, adding that he would prefer to work with dictatorships than environmental activists when choosing event hosts. He apologised, while noting that his comments had been taken out of context. 

His views are at odds with the wider FIS movement, which has publicly acknowledged the importance of working to counter man-made climate change and preserve the environments in which its sport takes place. Earlier this year, the organisation’s secretary-general, Sarah Lewis, told SportBusiness that environmental factors were increasingly central to the commercial partnerships being signed by FIS.