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Sabatino Aracu's Election as New FIRS President Is Considered a Foregone Conclusion

No One Else Has Been Nominated for the Post

By Robert "Just the Factoids" Burnson

When delegates of the International Roller Sports Federation (FIRS) gather in Rome on Saturday to elect a new president, they won't be confronted with a long list of candidates.

In fact, there will only be one:

Sabatino Aracu, the head of the European Roller Skating Federation and the current FIRS vice-president.

Aracu was the only person nominated -- and nominations have been closed for weeks, since under federation bylaws they must be received 30 days before an election.

A Challenge Is Unlikely

It is still possible that a candidate could challenge Aracu from the floor. But that appears unlikely.

So far, there has been no talk of any challenges, said James Pollard of the FIRS Central Committee.

"I'm sure that Sabatino Aracu will be voted in," said Pollard, who is president of the federation's artistic skating committee. "I haven't heard any other name mentioned, and I don't expect to."

The U.S. will vote for Aracu, said Pollard, who will be casting the vote in Rome. The executive committee of USA Roller Sports decided to support Aracu, based on his qualifications, shortly after Oliveras resigned.

Valerie Leftwich, head of the Australian and Oceania federations, had been named early on as a candidate. But she withdrew and is instead running for the No. 2 spot: first vice-president.

In a letter to FIRS, Leftwich said delegates from several countries asked her to run, but while "I was very proud to receive this confidence ... I felt that Mr. Sabatino Aracu was in a much better position politically and geographically to carry out this appointment."

Aracu's Qualifications

Aracu, 51, would be a strong candidate even if he faced opposition.

A former speed skater and journalist, he has been president of the Italian Roller Skating Federation for more than 10 years. He is also a member of the Italian Parliament, representing Abruzzi.

In addition, he is a former member of the Italian Olympic Committee and an acquaintance of International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge.

His Olympic credentials have taken on added weight as FIRS vies for inclusion in the 2012 Olympic Games.

The Catalonian Question

In fact, the Olympics are a big part of the reason that FIRS is electing a new president. Former president Isidro Oliveras resigned in November when the federation rejected membership for Catalonia, the region of Spain where he was born.

The main reason FIRS members rejected Catalonia was that they feared that political fallout from Spain, which opposed its membership, would hurt roller sports' Olympic aspirations.

Aracu was an outspoken opponent of Catalonian membership. He announced at the meeting that Rogge had told him that FIRS "was crazy" to think that it could recognize Catalonia when the Olympic Committee had not.

"This is not the way to arrive at the Olympic Games," Aracu told members. "The heart is with Catalonia, but the head needs to give legality to our sport."

New First Vice-president

Also to be elected Saturday will be a new first vice-president of FIRS. The current one, Ernesto Gonzalez Molina of Argentina, is resigning under a cloud of criminal allegations and health problems.

Two people have been nominated to replace him: Leftwich, of Australia; and Ernesto Cajaravilla, the president of the Uruguayan federation.

Leftwich is considered the stronger candidate. Not only has she spent ten years on the FIRS Central Committee, but her election would demonstrate the federation's commitment to women, which is something the Olympic Committee wants to see.

However, Leftwich is not a shoe-in for first vice-president. If the Spanish speaking delegates at the Elective Congress join together to support Cajaravilla, he could score an upset, Pollard said.

Some 40 or 50 delegates are expected to attend Saturday's FIRS meeting. Each country that belongs to FIRS gets one vote. The presidency is decided by a simple majority.

(posted on February 7, 2005)







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