The Professional Squash Association (PSA) has today (Friday) stepped up its campaign against the World Squash Federation (WSF) by stating that a ‘Global Task Force’ has been proposed which will function independently from the sport’s world body.
Details of growing friction between the PSA, which governs squash’s men’s and women’s professional world tours, and the WSF first emerged earlier in the week, in the wake of last week’s WSF Conference and Annual General Meeting in Nice, France.
The PSA has now reiterated its belief that the existing WSF structure must be overhauled in order for the sport to progress. PSA chairman Ziad Al-Turki and chief executive Alex Gough attended the AGM and challenged WSF leadership on a range of topics including accountability for recent failures in the sport’s bid for Olympic inclusion.
In addition to a delegate calling for WSF president N. Ramachandran to resign, other questions were raised about Ramachandran’s apparent conflict of interest in also leading the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), allegations related to his affiliation with the IOA, and the degree to which the negative press associated with it were a liability to the sport of squash.
From these meetings and discussions, a coalition of national squash federations, in partnership with the PSA, have proposed the formation of a Global Task Force. The PSA said the task force will analyse the current situation globally for squash, assess the various roles within squash that must be in place to ensure a solid foundation for growth while also “competently supporting” the sport’s ambitions for Olympic inclusion.
“The professional tour has garnered a huge amount of momentum over the past few years, including the amalgamation between the men’s and women’s tours earlier this year,” Al-Turki said.
“Prize money for the tour and awareness of squash is on the ascendancy and women are approaching full parity on compensation and opportunities to compete. A clear and concise strategy supported by best practice governance is needed now more than ever to both support the sport at the grassroots globally, and to ensure that squash fulfils its great potential. We will continue to liaise closely with all member nations over the coming weeks and months with the joint goal of developing the strongest possible structure and leadership for the sport.”
French Squash Federation president Jacques Fontaine, who had introduced a motion at the WSF AGM to form with representatives of national associations a working group focused on these issues, is expected to take a leadership role in the independent initiative. “While it is always preferred to operate within the current structure to effect change, we see advantages to working directly and closely with other federations and the pro tour to determine the best path forward for governing squash,” Fontaine said.
“France has made progress in the sport, both at the grassroots, in its elite programs, and hosting major international competitions, and we would like to see progress of this kind at the global level. The more clearly we articulate roles among all the parties involved, and empower national federations to work in partnership with the professionals managing squash and the pro tour, the more successful a necessary new deal for squash will be.”
Ramachandran last month said he would seek an explanation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over the process behind the selection of potential additional sports for the 2020 Olympic Games, adding that he found September’s decision “difficult to understand”.
The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee has proposed baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing as additional sports for its staging of the Olympic Games. The decision meant that bowling, squash and wushu failed to make the cut from the shortlist of eight international federations unveiled in June.
Squash has fought a long-running battle for Olympic inclusion and the PSA has criticised the WSF for not doing enough in the campaign. The PSA today said that more than a dozen countries are already part of the new coalition and additional announcements are expected in the coming weeks as next steps and timelines are formulated.
Ramachandran’s current term as WSF president ends next year.