By Ashara Peiris
The IQA is undoubtedly a very important part of the sport of quidditch, starting out as the NGB for the US before morphing into its current version as an international body responsible for the rulebook and the major continental and worldwide championships.
With the 2018 IQA World Cup fast approaching, a lot has been happening recently with the IQA, so what have you missed?
In a significant win for non-European teams, biannual Continental Tournaments will be held in the Americas and pan-Asia regions — alongside the existing IQA European Games. These tournaments will be played in non-World Cup years. Bidding for these events will open soon with further information expected in the near future. With all national teams now able to compete at least annually, there will hopefully be more opportunities for participation from developing NGBs.
2018 World Cup
With the World Cup being held in Florence at the end of June, there is undoubtedly going to be extreme scrutiny of the IQA over the next few weeks.
The IQA has been slow to release the competing teams, originally stating that 30 teams would be attending the World Cup. However, the IQA have now announced that Uganda will not be present at the tournament due to issues with obtaining visas — the same reason they were unable to attend the 2016 World Cup for. In an interview with Head of the Ugandan NGB John Ssentamu, he stated that the issue with getting visas was due to a failure by the Ugandan National Council of Sports to recognise quidditch and overly stringent requirements such as 30,000€ worth of insurance. Uganda seems to have made good progress developing the sport domestically with a total of five teams, including a primary school team — one of very few NGBs actively promoting kidditch. Uganda were clearly excited to get a team to the World Cup and missing out again will undoubtedly be frustrating for them. Uganda have been offered the opportunity to compete in any of the three Continental Games being held in 2019.
For the IQA, this is another PR disaster following the 2016 World Cup. They had offered to contribute more than €15,000 to getting Uganda to the World Cup as well as continued support with development.
With a significant lack of excitement around bringing Uganda to the World Cup and other nations that could have benefited from financial assistance such as Peru, Sweden, and Denmark who have pulled out at least partially due to lack of sufficient funds — though both Sweden and Denmark also had to pull out due to a lack of organisation and people, according to David Jonsson and Emil Held of their respective NGBs. However, financial assistance may have made attendance of those teams more feasible. In a statement given by Jonsson, the IQA had given a discount to the Swedish NGB and had offered assistance to their fundraising efforts, but the offer came after the decision not to attend had already been made.
In the most recent office hours held by the IQA, this issue was addressed and it was noted that investment into Uganda is the IQA’s only foray into African quidditch, and thus is investment for the whole continent. They also noted that the other nations which dropped out would have opportunities in 2019 to compete abroad in the Continental Games and European Quidditch Cup (EQC) — though this is less of an issue since Uganda has been invited to the Continental Games.
Now that Uganda has confirmed that they will be unable to attend the 2018 World Cup, there are important questions to be answered regarding what the €15,000 will be used for. Whether this will be offered as discounts for all NGBs or offered directly to developing and emerging NGBs is still unclear, but given that half of these funds was raised directly by the community, they deserve a swift answer, and one that meets the objectives of development of quidditch throughout the world.
There have also been questions regarding the budget produced. The original version of the budget expected income from players and teams of approximately €40,000. Since then, there have been a number of subsidies given to developing and emerging teams not able to afford the full fees, which is likely to reduce the profits. Of the most concern, though, is the €8,500 assigned for executive and committee travel. Whilst paying for committee travel is perfectly reasonable, there have been concerns that the executive should not receive subsidies for travel. They will be meeting on July 2 along with NGB representatives for a meeting to discuss the future of the IQA (see section below).
The IQA have also estimated an income of €30,000 for ticket and merchandise sales. This estimate is based on the income earned from the 2016 World Cup; however, with little data to base it on, this estimate is unlikely to be accurate — for better or for worse. From statements originally released by the IQA, it was hinted that this was a somewhat conservative estimate, which partially led towards the higher fees for team and players. Adding to this, the ticket prices seem to have recently changed and refunds have been offered to spectators, after a certain conundrum with the city of Florence, which QP is currently investigating further.
The IQA have contracted with the Human Company to provide the services for the World Cup. Amongst other things, the Human Company have mandated a Stay and Play policy for athletes. However, there have been concerns that the deal received by the IQA and teams is actually quite poor, with somewhat expensive accomodation compared to what can be purchased on the open market. More worrying, though, is the fact that the Human Company have been very slow responding to the IQA in recent weeks, prompting worries that they are underprepared for the actual event.
The volunteer directors for World Cup, particularly for referees, seem to be progressing well. References have been sought for referees and officials to ensure that they are not assigned to games above their skill level. Referees are also being paid rates comparable to other organisations and tournaments. However, volunteers are somewhat surprisingly not being given free lunches, despite a similar plan being in place for the 2016 World Cup, and instead are being offered lunch at a cost of €6 per day. Furthermore, communication delays with the Human Company has meant that despite early plans to offer centralised accommodation, this has been less possible, with volunteers encouraged to organise their own accomodation. In recent days, however, the Human Company has offered additional housing in limited quantities. There are also still questions on what amenities will be offered on–site at the World Cup and what the schedule for the week will be regarding open ceremonies and any expo games.
Now that the number of teams has been confirmed, a schedule has been released based on the 29 teams attending. The group draw has also been released, though the lateness of it has caused trouble for teams hoping to plan their strategies. In credit to the gameplay department, the tournament committee have developed a format that will give every team an opportunity to play meaningful and challenging games on both Day One and Day Two. Every team will play at least one team from Europe, one team from a non-European region, and one high–level level team (defined as one of the top seven teams from the 2016 World Cup and 2017 European Games). This new format will hopefully prove popular, striking a balance between offering challenge, spectator interest, and preserving the importance of Day One games.
Lastly, the World Cup website is mostly complete. There are still hopes that the tournament will be successful and provide the quidditch community with excellent games and a great tournament experience.
Alongside the other developments occurring in the IQA, the governance structure of the organisation is set to significantly change. They have been making their first steps towards creating an incorporated International Sports Federation. Existing IQA members will become founder members of the new organisation. On July 2, there will be a meeting of the IQA congress in which the IQA will cease to exist in its current form and the members will transfer from the old organisation to the new one.
Whilst the changes to the organisation seem relatively few so far, they include developing membership agreements for the members, the writing of a new constitution, and a change to the governance structure. Notable is a removal of the role of President of the Congress, a position currently held by Brian Gallaway. Whether this is a move to push out Gallaway or simply a restructuring is yet to be seen. How these changes will actually impact the running of NGBs and quidditch internationally is also still yet to be seen, but this will depend on the contents of the membership agreements and where the balance of power sits in the latest iteration of the organisation.
Clearly, the IQA is currently undergoing a significant period of change. With the changes to the IQA governance structure and the upcoming 2018 World Cup, this is an important period in the IQA’s history, and it will likely have a large impact on the future development of quidditch around the world.