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Day one of FISU’s 36th General Assembly shows university sport at its finest


TORINO – In the historical home of university sport – and Fiat, Ferrari, and Nutella – FISU President Oleg Matytsin officially opened the 36th General Assembly before turning the stage over to a trio of Italians whose life’s work touches on sport: Torino mayor Chiara Appendino, Italian national university sport president Lozerno Lentini, and Torino-born IOC Executive Committee Member Ivo Ferriana.


Torino mayor Appendino played on her city’s university sports roots, saying, “Torino is the home of university sport,” and noting the Universiade got its start here 60 years ago.”


Mayor Appendino also expressed the city’s desire to host Winter Universiade 2025, a wish Torino representatives first hinted at during this year’s Summer Universiade in Napoli. During this address, Lentini confirmed that the Italian FISU national member association Centro Universitario Sportivo Italiano (CUSI) was currently preparing the city’s games candidature.


Ferriani noted the critical role FISU played for advancing the dual-career pathway in elite sports. Ferriani, a former bobsledder-turned sports official who has spent much of his professional career as an educator at the State University of Rome – Eoro Italico, called FISU’s work in dual-career as “vital.” 


With 29th Winter Universiade taking place in Russia and Ekaterinburg awarded hosting rights to the Summer Universiade 2023, the FISU President delivered an address composed by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the congregation members.


 “Major changes happened in Krasnoyarsk,” the Russian president said. “We constructed and reconstructed many modern and high-standard venues of sports and social infrastructure. We developed the look and quality of the city public spaces. We raised a big team of professionals.


“Luckily, the end of Winter Universiade is not the end of our team,” added Putin. “We will use the experience, knowledge, and legacy of Winter Universiade to go on organizing major sports events in Krasnoyarsk.”


The delegate roll-call followed, with FISU Secretary General – CEO Eric Saintrond running this parliamentary procedure and explaining the role of scrutineers for the upcoming FISU elections to take place tomorrow, on day two of the two-day assembly.  




The FISU President’s Report began with a video message from IOC President Thomas Bach, a two-time Universiade fencing competitor.


A list of sporting luminaries helped open the event, including video messages from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President Witold Bańka.


“Having competed at the Universiade during my student days, today I can admit without great sporting success,” said President Bach, a two-time Summer Universiade fencing competitor. 


“On the other hand, it allowed me to experience even better the wonderful spirit of freedom and openness of this unique event,” Bach said. “It is, therefore, a personal privilege today to congratulate FISU on 70 years of promoting university sport among students around the world. Thank you for your role in promoting sports around the world.”


During his address, FISU President Matytsin gave a comprehensive review of the sports events having taken place in the past two years. Matytsin's report also introduced the new Universiade host cities to come, how FISU was refining its educational activities and the federation’s partnerships with other leading international federations.


In the WADA video address, agency president Bańka said both federations shared the same goal: clean sport.


“We have the same things in our hearts, protecting athletes, protecting sports,” Bańka said. “I wish you the very best in protecting clean sport.”


The FISU President also expressed how event broadcasts and the federation’s digital media efforts brand had enhanced university sports visibility globally. 




The address of the FISU Secretary General began with a somber but necessary tone to pay the respects to the passing five of university sports leaders who left an indelible mark on the movement: George Killian, Louw Hekkema, Sandy Rodriguez, Armando Rocha, and Donald Leas.


Saintrond also noted the closure of the FISU Office in Brussels in late 2017, followed by the federation’s reincorporation in the hub of international sports federations: Lausanne, Switzerland. 


“Many of our colleagues in Brussels couldn’t join us in making the transition due to family, but I can assure you they were well compensated and taken care of for their efforts,” Saintrond said.


The FISU Secretary General presented FISU’s efforts in the clean sports arena since the last general assembly. Working with WADA and the International Testing Agency (ITA), FISU events collected 1736 samples, with six positive doping cases (0.34%) over the past two years.


Saintrond’s report also noted FISU’s development programme, which has committed 1.02 million euros to 85 continental and national members since 2017 to expand the role and reach of university sport.


Stating “FISU has to go back to the campus,” Saintrond expressed FISU’s social responsibility found in its founding charter to enhance student-sport beyond high-performance efforts. To achieve this aim, the FISU Secretariat opened a new department, university relations, earlier this month. Led by former FISU Executive Committee Member Fernando Parente (POR), the first order of business for the new business department is the launch of the FISU Healthy Campus label.


Having kicked off in earnest in May 2019, the Healthy Campus concept aims to share the knowledge and best practices to enhance students’ health between universities. A FISU Healthy Campus label will be an ISO-certified award given to universities that meet specific standards that improves students’ quality of life on campus.





FISU Treasurer Bayasgalan Danzandorj (MGL) presented the treasurer report and business updates from an economic perspective to the federation member associations. In the past biennial cycle, FISU has leased its former homes, the Chateau de la Solitude in Brussels and Maison du Sport offices in Lausanne with no financial burden.


During these two years, FISU also attributed the Winter Universiade 2023 to Lake Placid, USA, and to the Summer Universiades 2021 and 2023 to Chengdu, China, and Ekaterinburg, Russian Federation.


“Attributing these three Universiades is one of the most important financial responsibilities of FISU,” Danzandorj said.


KPMG performed an independent auditory report, with the accounting firm delivering its news to the FISU national federations at the assembly. The scope of this work looked into FISU’s financial records for a limited statutory examination of the annual financial statements, all done in accordance with Swiss Las and Swiss Auditing Standards.


The KPMG auditory findings: "In our opinion, the combined financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2018 comply with Swiss law and FISU statutes and internal regulations.”


The FISU Treasury Report was unanimously approved. 



In a unanimous decision, the international university sports movement also welcomed admission to new member federation, Timor Leste, from Asia. 


"Today, thanks to all of you, Timor-Leste can join the university sports family,” a country representative said in an address to the assembly after the official vote.





The 2018 World University Championships brought the most extensive season in FISU’s history to date as 32 events took place across 25 countries in five continents. The 2018 edition saw four new sports join the FISU Sports Programme, with modern pentathlon taking place in Budapest, Hungary; cheerleading in Lodz, Poland; muaythai in Pattaya, Thailand, and wushu in Macau, China (MAC).


In 2020, the World University Championship season will have 31 events in 20 countries. This biennial event edition includes hosts from three new countries: Argentina, Morocco, Ukraine.


During the 2022 competition season, the sports disciplines of american football, cheerleading, floorball, handball, and netball will move from being national university competing teams into the university team format. FISU is also seriously considering bids to holding events in Cricket and Ultimate (Frisbee).


The inaugural edition of the KELME 2019 FISU University World Cup – Football kicks off in less than a week in Jinjiang, China, the final sports event on FISU’s 2019 calendar.


FISU Director General Paulo Ferreira delivered the report, the federation’s former championships department director.



With temperatures plunging to nighttime lows below minus-20 Celsius, current Siberian weather matches the #realwinter spirit Krasnoyarsk displayed of Winter Universiade 2019’s #realwinter is alive and well in Krasnoyarsk.


Winter Universiade 2019 Director General Maxim Urazov presented the notable figures and outstanding capital, infrastructure, and human legacies to come from the Siberian city host the event.


“Luckily the Winter Universiade 2019 isn’t the end of this story. We will continue to host world-class events in our city,” said Urazov. Since directing the 29th Winter Universiade, Urazov has transitioned to leading the Russian Students Sports Union. 


Following Urazov’s report, FISU President Matytsin expressed his confidence in Urazov to help Ekaterinburg organising committee to deliver the Summer Universiade 2023 to the highest standard.



On April 5, 2016, Campania Region adopted a regional law that identified the Universiade as a significant strategic event of the regional policy in the field of sport and economic and social development. 


Listening to the final Summer Universiade 2019 report, the sporting emotions still fresh in university sports fans' minds from Napoli were far from the lasting legacies left from hosting the event’s 30th edition. 


Beneficial outcomes organisers cited from hosting Napoli 2019 included regional GDP growth, increased tourism, higher employment, heightened awareness of the Campania Region, refurbishment and requalification of sports venues, and a revival of sports culture — particularly among the region’s youth.


“It was a great event because Napoli is energy, with a desire to win and, above all, pride in what we do,” said Napoli 2019 Marketing Director Giacomo Candeloro. “I am delighted to have been part of this great event. Thank you, Universiade. Thank you, FISU.”

Added Napoli 2019’s institutional area director Annapaola Voto: “We did it together, with you and also thanks to you. We did it, we made a Universiade which remains memorable in the history of the Campania region and Italy.”




 FISU’s vision is to lead the University Sport Movement, where their university sports experience positively influences the leaders of society. At the 2017 General Assembly, FISU leadership presented the federation’ s10 year plan to turn this vision into reality. 


During this assembly, the FISU President presented the work FISU has done to execute the strategy over the past two years. 


“A strategic plan is a living document,” said President Matytsin. “And I am happy to report that we have executed 130 of the 160 action plans tied to the strategic vision we all put together.


“The result has been more visibility, greater brand awareness for university sport.”



After an introduction by the FISU Secretary General on the need to capitalize on the digital movement afoot on university campuses around the world, President Matytsin unveiled a new visual identity and event naming structure for FISU events. Less of an unveil and more of a hint of what’s to come – the official public reveal set for January 2020 – the FISU President’s presentation still captured attendee attention.


Noting the confusion of having both the FISU “U” and the dynamic “5 Stars” logo, President Matytsin said, “FISU needs a single graphical approach, one that connects to our history but also shows our way forward.”


After a video presentation capturing the vision behind the new visual identity, the FISU President spoke on the visual importance of creating a cohesive, professional, and polished look for the university sports umbrella. 


“History and tradition are the bedrocks to the university sports story. This revitalized design hearkens back on while also capturing the more modern and digital life today on campus,” said President Matytsin. “The new visual identity captures our illustrious past while also attracting a new generation of university attendees to student-sports.”


Since joining the university sports movement at the international level in 1977, Jean-Paul Clemençon has been a staple at FISU events. When FISU prides itself on being on the leading edge of sports event planning and operations, its largely due to contributions by Clemençon and the company. As the longtime chair of the Summer Universiade International Technical Committee, Clemençon helped draw up the event’s technical regulations, the execution of plans by a host city, and problem solved issues that arose from an event that brought up to 8,000 competitors across 18 sports together to compete at the highest international standard.


As the former Technical Committee Chair of Volleyball before becoming Clemençon's righthand man as the CTI Vice-Chair of the Summer Universiade, Mark Tennant was awarded for raising both the level of expertise and professionalism of FISU's summer sports events.


FISU honored two of the federation’s Technical Committee Chair for Athletics, Tapani Ilkka and Till Lufft for years of service. Always one of the events sure to bring top-level athletes leading to world-class performances at the Summer Universiade, Ilkka and Lufft helped ensure elite athletics fields were featured at each edition of the Summer Universiade. 


With Handball the origin sport of the World University Championships from Lund, Sweden, back in the early 1960s, the competition has played an important role in FISU history. FISU awarded Frantisek Taborsky for his efforts as the Technical Committee Chair of Handball.


The 6th FISU Gender Equality Award went to the Universities Sports Association of Ethiopia.




A charismatic sports leader who would preside over the FISU for four decades, Nebiolo helped thaw east and west relations with the games he christened the Universiade. With FISU coming back to Nebiolo’s hometown, the stage was set for the inaugural presentation of FISU’s new prestigious award to longtime service to university sport.


The FISU Executive Committee bestowed five individuals (Giovanna Nebiolo, spouse of Primo Nebiolo), Konstantin Anastassov (FISU Emeritus Honorary Member), Roch Campana (FISU Honorary Secretary General), Julio Maglione (FINA President, medalist during first Summer Universiade), Claude-Louis Gallien (former FISU President, Emeritus Honorary Member), and one organisation (Centro Universitario Sportivo Torino) with the award. 



Day one came to a fitting end with American pole vaulter Bridget Guy winning the FISU Fair Play Award for her act of generosity and friendship during the Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade. The International Fair Play Committee recognised the recent University of Virginia graduate for lending her competition equipment to a Brazilian competitor whose vaulting poles were stuck at an airport in Portugal.




Jenö Kamuti, a four-time Summer Universiade fencing competitor himself, presented the American pole vaulter Bridget Guy with the FISU Fair Play Award for her act of generosity and friendship during the Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade. Noticing that a Brazilian competitor’s specific pole vault pole was lost in transit, the University of Virginia student-athlete shared her competition pole with her competitor. 



“In pole vaulting, there’s a unique comradery,” the recent university graduate explained. “Although we are competing against each other, we’re really competing against the bar. I believe helping someone in need is one of the greatest rewards in our sport and life. It is very generous of the International Fair Play Committee to choose me as a recipient because I am confident Juliana would have done the same for me.”