The Professional Squash Association (PSA) and World Squash Federation (WSF) have today (Thursday) agreed in principle to adopt a new Memorandum of Understanding that will seek to drive the sport’s ongoing development in the global marketplace.
The news comes following the first meeting featuring newly-elected WSF president Jacques Fontaine and PSA chief executive Alex Gough, along with other senior officials from the two bodies. In November, Fontaine pledged to step up the sport’s long-running battle for admission onto the programme for the summer Olympic Games, following his election.
Fontaine succeeded N. Ramachandran, following the completion of the Indian’s second and final four-year term. Ramachandran’s position as president had come under scrutiny following the sport’s latest failure in efforts to secure a place on the Olympic Programme. The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee in September 2015 proposed baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing as additional sports for its staging of the Olympic Games, a move that was ratified by the International Olympic Committee in August last year.
The decision meant that bowling, squash and wushu failed to make the cut from the shortlist of eight international federations unveiled in June 2015. 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 sport also lost out to rugby sevens and golf for inclusion at Rio 2016 after experiencing similar failure before London 2012.
A statement issued following the latest meeting said that all agreed that a “strategic alliance” is of paramount importance in order for squash to continue advancing in the global sporting field. “In order for squash to achieve greater visibility and profile around the world it is vital that there is a strong working partnership between the WSF and PSA,” Fontaine said.
“The intention of the WSF board and myself is to provide strong and vibrant leadership and we look forward to building upon our relationship with the PSA and working closely with our foremost partner as we seek to improve every element of squash from grass roots to world championships. This opportunity for us to meet to plan together for our future has been a valuable one.”
The strategic partnership, which is set to be agreed in detail in the coming months, will focus on creating a joint vision for squash at all levels that will enable the sport to create a more stable and successful platform from which to market itself around the world.
The two bodies said ensuring the sport's successful integration into future Olympic Games, creating a centrally unified refereeing structure and expanding of the sport's commercial and broadcast arms are all elements which will be fundamental to the success of the partnership.
“In recent years the Professional Tour has made enormous strides as it has led the way in both broadcasting and presentation whilst squash has grown in participation levels and public interest,” Gough said.
“In order to fully utilise this momentum and to achieve our Olympic ambitions it is important that the PSA and WSF work together, taking all opportunities whilst also addressing any issues and threats to the sport to get the very best outcome for squash.
“We were pleased to meet with Jacques and his team and have been hugely encouraged by the conversations and look forward to fostering a new, stronger relationship with the WSF as we embark upon the next step in the sport's journey.”