Boycott Averted At Eleventh Hour Before ISL Eindhoven Play-Offs But Athletes Seek Answers As Deadline Passes On Solidarity Payments
Boycott of the International Swimming League playoffs in Eindhoven was averted in the past week when most but not all athletes were finally handed their prize money from Season 2 a year ago but a contractual deadline for payment of “solidarity” grants has still not been honoured, sources say.
As Season 3 Play Offs get underway today in Eindhoven, League team sources have confirmed to SOS that most athletes still owed money from last season and threatening to boycott the play offs and final rounds of the League unless the situation was rectified have been paid in the past week.
Sources also confirmed, however, that the payments crisis at the ISL has not yet been resolved and that an October 31 contractual deadline has passed without payment of “solidarity camp” grants offered by the ISL and its founder Konstantin Grigorishin to help tide athletes over during the pandemic after many competitions, including the Olympic Games in 2020, were cancelled.
The Games went ahead in July this year, while the League helped to keep elite swimming going through the pandemic at a time when FINA cancelled all its events.
The issue of non-payments in the League, however, has been a thorny issue, one highlighted by complaints that flowed from two senior figures who voiced their feelings after quitting their League roles.
In the background of the payments issue, Grigorishin has to date invested many millions in swimming and the League, as well as footing the bill for the legal action, for the League and athletes, against FINA, aimed at bringing an official end to the monopoly written into the rules and constitution of the international federation, even as a reform process is underway (read our SOS series on FINA Reform).
Prize money for the current series is not due to be rolled out until next month after the final match but athletes are hopeful of speedier delivery of their earnings and other payments promised by the League.
One source said:
“It’s been frustrating. We would rather not have had to threaten a boycott to get paid what we were owed in prize money. We’re asking about the solidarity money but the deadline has passed and that’s not right. It’s great that we have the League and that regular wages might be a part of the sport at last but athletes need certainty and expect money promised and earned to be delivered on time.”
One swimmer said she was happy to see the ISL respond to the feelings of athletes when talk of a boycott made the headlines. She noted: “We have learnt from this and the League has helped us to understand the power of our voices and the power of withdrawing labour if we have to. I hope the ISL learnt a lesson too.”
Another source indicated that payments were also still due to teams for general costs, including the wages of staff, such as coaches, physiotherapists and others.
When last asked, the ISL declined to comment on the situation of payments due.