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ICF hit by SUP World Championships court ruling

The International Canoe Federation is assessing its options after a court issued an injunction against the Portuguese Canoe Federation (FPC) which is set to prevent it from hosting the ICF’s first ever World Championships in the StandUp Paddle (SUP) format.

The FPC was due to host the event from August 30 to September 2 at Viana do Castelo and Esposende. However, it is set to become a victim of the battle for control over the sport between the ICF and International Surfing Association (ISA).

The Portuguese Court of Arbitration for Sport (TAD) last week upheld a complaint lodged by the Portuguese Surfing Federation (FPS), a ruling that is set to make it impossible for the SUP World Championships to take place as planned.

The latest development comes after the International Surfing Association (ISA) and ICF agreed to send their long-running battle over ownership of the SUP discipline to the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) arbitration process.

The two international federations have been engaged in a lengthy dispute over SUP, with the ISA claiming that it and its national federations have invested considerable time and money into the sport since 2008; organising the annual ISA World StandUp Paddle Championships, growing the discipline in new markets, and working for SUP’s inclusion in a range of multi-sport events.

SUP athletes use a surf board and paddle to navigate courses and the ICF feels the use of a paddle classifies the discipline as a form of canoeing.

In response to last week’s ruling, the ICF has highlighted that it does not have any bearing on the ongoing discussions regarding the future international governance of SUP. It added in a statement: “The ICF is currently considering all available options with regards the 2018 ICF SUP World Championships.

“Unfortunately, the biggest losers in the Portuguese court decision are the athletes that entered the event, and the hard working volunteers and staff that had already committed time and energy to this project.

“The ICF will continue to provide opportunities for these athletes, including the nearly 200 athletes from more than 40 countries that have already entered the ICF Stand Up Paddling World Championships.

“One of the options being explored is a possible challenge to the Portuguese court decision. However, the ICF can confirm it has also already been approached by other countries who are willing to host the 2018 ICF Stand Up Paddling World Championships.”

The ICF said it is also still willing to seek a compromise with the ISA. “One option the ICF remains happy to consider is to grant ISA control over all ocean SUP, while the ICF would govern inland flatwater SUP,” ICF president Jose Perurena added.

“While this is not an ideal option for either federation, it would grant some clarity and stability for the athletes and everyone else involved in stand up paddling. The ICF is committed to finding the best outcome for the sport of SUP.”