Oleg Matytsin

Week 110 (7 - 13 November 2015)

 During a deeply difficult week for Russian sport, there was one announcement to cheer for the nation’s sports administration: the election of Oleg Matytsin as President of the International University Sports Federation (FISU).

On Sunday, a day before the World Anti-Doping Agency released its Independent Commission report on doping, Matytsin defeated incumbent Frenchman Claude-Louis Gallien by the convincing margin of 102 votes to 23, placing him at the head of an increasingly important organisation for the Olympic Movement.

A leading part of FISU’s philosophy is to promote sports values and encourage sports practice within a university spirit of friendship, fair-play and integrity. And FISU’s goal is not only to see these values represented in university sport, but to one day see them in play in politics, economics, culture and industry – through former university student athletes taking their place in non-sports related careers.

Throughout his election campaign Matytsin, 51, captured this essence in his communications. And the proof that his words were well received lies in his overwhelming election victory.

Matytsin’s election campaign started with issuing a simple but strong 10-point manifesto. In the weeks leading up to the FISU General Assembly in Lausanne, Matytsin consolidated those 10 points into three succinct policy pillars: “alignment with the Olympic Movement”, “FISU’s administration” and “communications”, and explained them in an op-ed in the influential publication Sport Intern.

He then based his pre-vote speech to delegates in Lausanne around this structure.

Gradually seeding his ideas in this way meant that many FISU members were already familiar with what Matytsin stood for before he took to the podium to deliver his final speech.

Perhaps with their minds half made up they were only seeking a final reassurance that Matytsin was their man.

And Matytsin passed his test at the podium with flying colours, delivering a varied and lively speech which saw him re-quote a particularly relevant statement in IOC President Thomas Bach’s address to the FISU membership on the first day of the General Assembly.

Matytsin said: “15 years ago, Facebook was regional not global, the iPhone was an idea, and no-one had ever downloaded an app.

“But things change, and students adapt to these changes more quickly than anyone.  I believe that FISU must change as well, not because we have done something wrong. But – as Thomas

Bach said yesterday: “because new questions require new answers”.

Matytsin’s campaign struck a chord with FISU’s membership and his victory has ushered in a new era at FISU.

Photo: FISU