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Shady Bank Account and Hasty Decision: Why India Lost Boxing World Championship Hosting Rights

The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) cited multiple problems with International Boxing Association’s (AIBA’s) decision to change the venue for the Men’s World Championships and imposing a fine on India for failing to pay the host city fee. The bone of contention are the bank accounts of the world body, which have long been under investigation by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
AIBA awards men's boxing world championships 2021 to Belgrade

AIBA awarded hosting rights for the 2021 Men’s World Championships to Belgrade, after BFI (who was designated hosts as far back as in 2017) failed to pay the host fee (Pic: Twitter).

The Boxing Federation of India (BFI)  believes the International Boxing Association’s (AIBA) decision to change the venue of the Men’s World Championship 2021 was ‘taken in haste without due consultation’ after India’s hosting rights were snatched for non-payment of host city fee.

AIBA awarded hosting rights for the World Championships to Belgrade, after BFI (who was designated hosts as far back as in 2017) failed to pay the host fee due to the international body. The fee, reported to be $1 million, was due to be paid on December 1 last year.

What has irked the BFI most though is the penalty they will have to pay for shifting venues. An AIBA statement said that they will ‘have to pay a cancellation penalty of $ 500’, a measly amount but a slap in the face of the organisers. 

According to BFI, the problems arose because of complexities in the payment procedures laid down by AIBA. Furthermore, according to the BFI, the world body failed to resolve concerns regarding the account in which the money had to be transferred. 

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“AIBA's account in Lausanne was frozen,” a statement released by the BFI said. “AIBA intended to have some previous payments through an account in Serbia. But as Serbia is in the grey list of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) countries, Indian Banks do not normally send money there. AIBA could not resolve these issues”. According to the statement the AIBA account mentioned in the host city agreement is still inoperative. 

BFI have also accused AIBA of not coming up with a solution with regard to the payment and hurrying through the bidding procedure. The world body invited fresh bids for the event a day before the payment deadline.

“We have reasons to believe that the decision to change the venue of WCH-2021 was taken in haste without due consultation,” the BFI statement added, acknowledging that they have accepted the change in venue but are shocked at the imposition of the penalty.

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“BFI President Mr Ajay Singh has spoken with AIBA Interim President, Dr Mohamed Mustahsane a while back and both parties are working for an amicable solution,” the statement said, before concluding that they are confident the penalty will be waived off and India be considered for World Championship events again in the future.

All in all, the episode marks another chapter in the never ending saga that is amateur boxing’s mismanagement on the world stage. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has previously suspended AIBA for administrative and financial mismanagement and barred them from conducting Olympic competition for the sport. The Olympic qualifiers for each region held earlier this year were held under the aegis of the IOC.

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