The battle of the paddle: SUP dispute continues

Photo: Jill Christina Hansen/Copencold Hawaii

Photo: Jill Christina Hansen/Flickr


By Stine Alvad
An 18-month long fight over the governing rights of stand-up paddle continues after attempts of CAS mediation.

Two international federations have been fighting for more than 18 months over who is the rightful controller of the sport Stand-up paddle (SUP) without reaching any compromise.

The International Surfing Association (ISA) and the International Canoe Federation (ICF) recently ended a failed CAS mediation process that the involved had hoped could have settled the row over who, surfing or canoeing, has the largest stake in the sport. Instead, the two federations never came to an agreement on which terms the mediation would take place, says an ISA statement issued earlier this week.

The statement from the ISA came in response of a call from the ICF urging that the dispute be resolved before the kick-off of the inaugural ICF SUP World Championships starting 30 August in Portugal.

“For the sake of the athletes, we wanted to try and find a resolution to this problem,” ICF President, Jose Perurena said according to the call issued on the ICF website.

“Sadly the ISA was not prepared to accept what we believe are reasonable proposals. This means the situation remains unresolved, so the ICF will now focus on building on the strong SUP foundations we have already established through the strong work of our National Federations.”

In its response to ICF, the ISA refuted claims that it had been uncooperative.

“Contrary to what has been reported recently by the ICF, the ISA has continued to propose clear and reasonable solutions throughout the ongoing situation,” said ISA President, Fernando Aguerre on

‘Enough is enough’
According to the ISA, they are the federation responsible for leading the sport of SUP to the great popularity it enjoys today through investments, a number of competitions and an attempt to get the sport accepted to the Olympic programme, which was allegedly blocked by the dispute with the ICF.

“Since 2010, the ISA has heavily invested time and resource into StandUp Paddle, both in terms of events and education. The ISA has cumulatively committed over $5 million in the sport (…). Until November 2016, no financial (or otherwise) investment by any other IF into SUP had taken place,” Aguerre says in the statement and continues:

“As is clear, the ISA is the real long-standing sole governing body for StandUp Paddle, and has existed as such without interference or objection for a decade. It is a shame, and a detriment to all involved in the sport, that this governance has been challenged by the ICF. Enough is enough, and we now feel it is important to set the record straight with verifiable facts, something that the ICF recent press releases completely lack.”

The ICF, on the other hand, also insists it has a long history of building up SUP.

Both federations claim to wish for a resolution, but neither seem to be willing to step down in the battle over the governing rights.

“..if no resolution can be reached, we are committed to ensuring the ICF promotes SUP activities so that they and the athletes receive the recognition they deserve,” the ICF says, while the ISA calls for another attempt to have CAS mediate the conflict. A process that the ISA anticipate will end in its favour:

”In the end, the facts surrounding this dispute will speak for themselves and, we believe, will demonstrate to CAS and the wider Olympic Movement, the ISA’s true history of leadership, commitment and development of SUP,” Aguerre said.


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