Fraudulent votes reported regarding IFAF Europe committee

With the leadership of all of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) still in question, a coup seems to be underway within the federation’s most contentious committee, IFAF Europe.

The positions of as many as five of the nine of members of the IFAF Europe Executive committee may have been misrepresented by members of Wiking’s IFAF Congress faction in press releases and email correspondence sent to the wider American football community in Europe.

“No IFAF European Continental Committee anymore”

In an an open letter published on September 16, IFAF Europe Executive Committee Chairman, Goran Nisavic (Serbia) and IFAF Europe Executive Committee Vice-Chairman, Gregor Murth (Austria) voiced their concerns with the statutes and structural changes proposed, and eventually approved, at Tommy Wiking’s IFAF Congress in Paris.

Here is an excerpt from the open letter;

“… if any structural changes or changes of any previously elected representatives of IFAF Europe are adopted by any of the Congresses on Saturday, you can consider this email to be a letter of resignation because we do not accept to be leaders of a divided Europe or of a European federation that is missing some member countries for whatever reason.”

Fast forward to Wednesday, September 21, a ‘LETTER TO MEMBERS IN EUROPE’ was circulated to the IFAF Europe Executive Committee members from Enrique Garcia de Castro (Spain).

In the letter, Garcia summarizes the actions of the Wiking’s IFAF Congress in Paris, rebukes IFAF Europe Executive Committee chairpersons Nisavic and Murth,  and states that “under the new structure of IFAF there will be no IFAF European Continental Committee anymore.”

Garcia follows this by naming the seven members, less Nisavic and Murth, of the IFAF European Continental Committee.

He states that Enrique Garcia de Castro (himself, of Spain), Sahin Komercu (Turkey), Lesley Moreels (Belgium), Romeo Tjoe-A-On (Netherlands), Thomas Ahlberg (Sweden), Jedrzej Steszewski (Poland) and Gary Marshall (Great Britain) decided by unanimous decision to appoint Enrique Garcia De Castro (again, author of the letter) as interim Chairman and Sahin Komercu as interim Vice-Chairman of the IFAF Europe.

See the full letter below.

As it turns out, many of the members named above not only did not vote as stated, they did not attend Wiking’s and Garcia’s Congress on Saturday.

Upon receiving this message, Great Britain’s IFAF Europe Committee member Gary Marshall replied requesting his name be removed from Garcia’s release and a retraction of the statement be issued.

From: Gary Marshall
Sent: Wednesday, September 21, 2016 9:09 BST
To: Enrique Garcia de Castro
Subject: Re: LETTER TO MEMBERS IN EUROPE

Enrique,

I hereby instruct you to immediately remove my name from the letter sent today (September 21st 2016 at 6.47 titled LETTER TO MEMBERS IN EUROPE) and issue a retraction of the claim that I voted in favour of anything mentioned in your letter.

If you do not do this I will be taking legal advice as to how to pursue matters.

In a communication dated September 19th 2016 (in reply to an email entitled Re: Calling for a vote about interim leadership) I questioned both the legality of your calling such a vote and also the time frame you wanted to enforce for the vote.

I have not and will not vote in favour of any such notions or motions that you put forward.

Your letter purporting to represent a unanimous vote was anything but as I certainly did not vote. Your further claim that the dissolution of EFAF was not something that everyone wanted is also untrue, if the majority wanted it why did the vote go against it and why was the organisation wound up?

The letter is littered with inaccuracies and untruths and as such I do not want to be associated with it in any form.

I trust you will follow common decency here and send out a retraction immediately.

Yours in Sport,

Gary Marshall

Instead of a retraction, Garcia replied to Marshall with the following email and reissued the statement amending one sentence.

From: Enrique Garcia de Castro
Sent: Thursday, September 22, 2016 12:07 PM
To: (members of IFAF Europe Executive Committee)
Subject: Re: LETTER TO MEMBERS IN EUROPE

Dear Members,

Following my message from yesterday please find an updated.

One member of the former IFAF European Continental Committee missed the voting deadline but want to have his vote still counted as a negative vote.

So the motion was accepted unanimous but by one no vote.

Best regards.

IFAF EUROPE
E. Garcia de Castro
President

Clearly ignored, Marshall quickly replied.

From: Gary Marshall <[email protected]>
Date: Thursday, September 22 2016 at 20:43 BST
To: Enrique Garcia de Castro
Cc: (members of IFAF Europe Executive Committee)
Subject: Re: LETTER TO MEMBERS IN EUROPE

Enrique,

It pains me to see the tactics and way of working that you are adopting in this matter.

There was no unanimous decision, there cannot be a unanimous decision if there is even one vote against. You must release the actual votes ‘for’ in an open manner and say who voted in favour and who voted against. I have correspondence from IFAF E Board members stating they did not vote, that coupled with the fact that both Goran and Gregor didn’t vote makes a mockery of both of your claims to have even had a basic majority vote let alone a unanimous one. Please stop trying to pass this off as anything other than what it is, a poor (and invalid), attempt to cling onto power and influence.

At this juncture I must point out, once again, you did not officially inform all IFAF E Board members of your intention to call a vote and by having a ridiculously short voting time tried to actually prevent people from voting! As I pointed out to you in my email of Monday 19th September, I questioned both your validity and legality to even call for such a vote and I repeat this once again.

You still fail to answer the basic question I asked, that of; If you held a Congress in Paris where you changed the format and make up of the IFAF E Board (as you stated in your original press release) there was no need for an “Interim Structure’ If you did not change this Board make up in Paris there is no need for an “interim structure’ as we still have a Chairman and Vice Chairman in Goran and Gregor. My support for these two gentlemen is unequivocal and I still consider them to be leading IFAF Europe.

So once again I ask what is the situation, what did you actually do?

Using your private email and not being open and upfront with the alleged vote and how it was conducted and verified goes against all of the rules of natural justice and flies in the face of everything that I thought you actually believed in and stood for! In one sense though, looking at the list of some of the Countries that “attended” the Paris meeting and their standing in football terms, I should not be surprised at the tactics being adopted here.

I will be sharing your latest mail and my reply with the wider football world both here in Europe and further afield, so I am afraid that you will have to issue further ‘updates’ and retractions when it is obvious that you did not have a simple majority and no where near a unanimous one.

I look forward to your next ‘update’.

Yours in Sport,

Gary Marshall

Meanwhile, Marshall then issued a letter to all European federations heads expressing his concerns over the actions taking at the IFAF Congress in Paris and the subsequent IFAF Europe committee upheaval.

From: Gary Marshall
Date: Wedsnesday, September 21 2016 at 17:03 BST
To: (all European federations)
Subject: Paris meeting and subsequent communications

Dear European Federation members,

My name is Gary Marshall and I am an IFAF Europe Board member, elected by the IFAF Congress in Kuwait.

I write to you as you will all have no doubt received a communication containing information regarding a recent meeting held in Paris on Saturday 17th September 2016.

This group, who sent the email, claim to represent both IFAF and a new IFAF Europe and have sent out information regarding decisions taken at that meeting.

I can inform you that the vast majority of information contained in that letter are outright lies. It mentions a “unanimous vote” see below
Therefore the remaining seven members of the IFAF European Continental Committee which are Mr. Enrique Garcia de Castro, Mr. Sahin Komercu, Mr. Lesley Moreels, Mr. Romeo Tjoe-A-On, Mr. Thomas Ahlberg, Mr. Jedrzej Steszewski and Mr. Gary Marshall decided by unanimous decision to appoint Mr. Enrique Garcia De Castro as interim Chairman and Mr. Sahin Komercu as interim Vice-Chairman of the IFAF European Continental Committee both continuing as ordinary members of the committee itself. The task of the Treasurer/ Financial Director will remain vacant for the near future.

It says that I voted, at that meeting in Paris, in favour of establishing an interim Board for IFAF.

This is their first lie – over the weekend of 17th/18th September I was in Worcester GB representing the IFAF Europe Board at the IFAF EC 4 Nation qualification tournament organised by BAFA. Also present at that tournament over the same dates was Thomas Ahlberg in his role as IFAF Europe Technical committee member, so he didn’t vote either, that is their second lie! I also know that Jedrzej Steszewski (IFAF Europe Board member) was not present in Paris and also didn’t vote, their third lie. Nikolaus Jelinek (IFAF Europe Competition Committee Chairman) was also present at the Worcester Tournament and can verify the attendance, in Worcester, of both myself and Thomas Ahlberg.

How can there have been a “unanimous vote” when 5 members (the others being Goran Nisavic and Gregor Murth) of the IFAF Europe Board were not present and certainly didn’t vote ? Four board members voted in an unauthorised and illegal vote and I would ask you to question their motives behind such a move.

The letter also tries to give the impression that this vote took place at the Paris meeting on Saturday 17th – please check the email trail below where the email from Enrique Garcia asking for a vote to take place is dated 18th September, the day after the Paris meeting, this trail also contains my strong objections to both the validity and legality of such a vote!

I have sent another email upon receiving their letter this morning insisting that my name is removed from any correspondence implying my support or vote in favour in any shape or form for this organisation or I will consider taking legal action against those who are using my name in this false and misleading manner.

They do not represent the majority view in Europe and are actively taking football backwards. There are other aspects of their letter which are also less than honest and a smokescreen to cover their true intent.

I would ask you all to carefully consider your position before agreeing to support an organisation who have based their first communication on an illegal position supported by a letter containing outright lies and misinformation.

If there is any further information that you feel I can supply you with please get back to me on this email address.

Yours sincerely

Gary Marshall: IFAF Europe Board member

The Ghost of EFAF

IFAF Europe came to be in the aftermath of the IFAF Congress Decision of 2012, where it was agreed that IFAF would begin implementing major plans for restructuring the organization of American football throughout the world. The goal was to create a uniform, streamlined structure and organization in every region in the world. Thus the federation undertook the task to establish five separate continental executive committees headed up in each area by representatives from each of the federations in those countries.

The five IFAF organizations are IFAF Europe, IFAF Africa, IFAF Oceania, IFAF Asia and IFAF Americas. Each one operates independently, but with financing and accounting funneled through IFAF‘s head office. Each committee, which consists of four to nine members, was elected for a four year term. The new structure began to take shape in 2012 and four of the five committees were formed without a hitch.

IFAF Europe, on the other hand, had a more contentious beginning as the powerful European Federation of American Football (EFAF) opposed the new structure.

It took two years and two bitterly-fought court challenges from the former EFAF, before the EFAF general assembly unanimously decided to dissolve EFAF in 2014 and IFAF Europe took its place.

However, it seems like the ghost of EFAF is still alive and well and now haunting IFAF  Europe in a new form.

John McKeon
John McKeon is a former professional and collegiate American Football player and coach now living and working in New York. His goal is to spread news, information, and opinion on the global growth of the sport he loves.
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