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AIBA Rebrands Itself as IBA in Attempt to Change Image

The International Boxing Association has changed its acronym from AIBA to IBA, as part of a series of measures approved at its Extraordinary Congress. The virtual meeting of amateur boxing’s governing body saw 80 delegates voting in favour of the change, with 5 delegates opposing the move.

Rebranding the organisation has been a long-term suggestion. Its full name had been changed to ‘International Boxing Association’ from ‘Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur’ in 2007, but the previous acronym of AIBA had remained.

Nevertheless, the timing of the change to IBA is seen as an attempt to rebrand itself as AIBA had been “tarnished” amid allegations of match-fixing and corruption.

A package of governance reforms, developed by a group chaired by Swiss professor Ulrich Haas, were also approved at the Congress.

Recommendations included requiring a “clear majority” of the existing Board to be replaced and the introduction of a liaison officer, who enjoys trust at both the governing body and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The Board of Directors will be reduced from 28 members to 18, following elections which will be held by June 30. Candidates for election will be subject to term limits and robust eligibility checks which are expected to be conducted independently.

The liaison officer is considered part of emergency measures required to enhance the relationship between IBA and the IOC, with the official expected to be a point of contact and mediator.

A Boxing Integrity Unit is scheduled to be established in 2022, while a restructured Finance Committee, Audit Committee and a new Strategy Committee are set to be implemented.

The existing Board approved the reform package in November, with the Congress rubber-stamping the changes today.

The IOC warned last week that AIBA must “demonstrate it has successfully addressed the ongoing concerns around its governance, financial transparency and sustainability, and integrity of refereeing and judging process” by 2023 for boxing to be included at Los Angeles 2028 and for its suspension to be lifted in time for Paris 2024.

In an interim report on AIBA published on December 8, IOC chief ethics and compliance officer Pâquerette Girard Zappelli questioned the nature of the contract with Russian energy company Gazprom and claimed the embattled federation is in danger of being overly dependent on the company for its revenue.

AIBA’s financial stability was a key factor in the IOC’s decision to suspend it as the Olympic governing body for boxing in June 2019.

A report from the EY auditing firm said the agreement with Gazprom would run from April to December 2021 and that “AIBA had received 100 per cent of the contractually stipulated amount of funds in the first half of 2021 as a prepayment”.

EY said the conditions of the Gazprom contract enabled AIBA to “fully cover” its expenditure for the year to June 30 and to cover budgeted expenditures for the year until June 30 in 2022. 

After that period, however, AIBA’s revenues – in addition to the remaining six months of revenues from the Gazprom agreement – will be “dependent on future licensing, sponsorship and event revenues that have yet to be contracted”.

Dutch Boxing Federation head Boris van der Vorst, an AIBA presidential candidate in 2020, raised the Gazprom sponsorship during the Congress.

IBA President Umar Kremlev denied the agreement was an issue.”The EY auditors looked through the contract with Gazprom and it is all transparent and no concerns were raised about this contract,” Kremlev told the delegates.

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