USA Position on the Protest Fee
3 March 2011
USA is opposed to the new rule regarding the protest fee. An alternative is suggested.
At the IGC Plenary on 6 March 2010, the 2010 Edition of Annex A was approved as a Year 2 proposal. The original effective date was to be 1 October 2010, but, in a separate vote, the Plenary approved an effective date of 1 April 2010, thus establishing the rules for both of the 2010 World Gliding Championships.
The IGC Bureau met in Dublin on 3-4 October 2010. This resulted in the publication of “Version 2” of the 2010 Edition of Annex A. The effective date of Version 2 was 1 October 2010, and it was published on the FAI website on 17 January 2011.
One of the changes in Version 2 was a rewrite of rule 9.2.3, regarding the protest fee:
9.2.3. The amount of the Protest Fee shall be stated in the Local Procedures. The protest fee shall be returned if the protest is upheld, or is withdrawn prior to the hearing by the Jury.
Version 2 rule:
9.2.3. The amount of the Protest Fee shall be stated in the Local Procedures. Minimum amount is € 250. The protest fee shall be returned if the protest is upheld, or is withdrawn prior to the hearing by the Jury.
Version 2 of Annex A has established a minimum protest fee of €250. Traditionally, the protest fee specified in the Local Procedures has been either $100 or €100. The new rule amounts to a significant increase in the protest fee.
The justification for the increased fee can be found in the minutes of the October 2010 Bureau meeting:
A number of protests, not in line with good sportsmanship, were received, e.g. to put pressure on competing pilots. This is not acceptable.
It was decided to increase the Protest fee to a minimum of 250€
In other words, the Bureau raised the protest fee to discourage frivolous or tactically motivated protests.
USA agrees that there is a problem, and that this problem occurred in 2010. If the burden of filing a protest is too low, then there will be a temptation to file a frivolous protest. The rules should give the right of legitimate protest to all teams in a fair manner, while simultaneously removing all temptation to abuse the system.
Raising the protest fee fails to accomplish either of these goals.
- Raising the protest fee will have no effect at all on well-funded teams. It will create a hardship for teams on a tight budget, and may even discourage some NACs from participating. This is patently unfair, and contrary to our mission to increase participation.
- Raising the fee provides a non-specific disincentive to file protests in general. It will make it more burdensome to file all protests, including legitimate protests.
While it is plausible that raising the fee will discourage abuse of the system, no evidence of this has been presented.
A better solution
There are ways to raise the integrity of the protest process, without raising fees:
- Make a strong statement in the rules that a tactically motivated protest is unsportsmanlike.
- Allow no exceptions to the existing rule that a protest must follow the Director’s ruling on a Complaint. Do not allow any shortcuts in the process.
- Require that Complaints refer to specific rules in Annex A.
- Require that the Jury President receive a copy of all rulings on Complaints. This gives the Jury President the opportunity to discuss the matter with the Team Captain, and to give an opinion on whether the Complaint is frivolous.
- Empower the Jury President to disallow a protest that is plainly frivolous or abusive of the system, and give the Team Captain the right to appeal this rejection to the IGC Bureau.
- Penalize unsportsmanlike behavior with points, not euros.
Raising the protest fee may be effective in reducing the number of frivolous protests, but it is a very blunt instrument. And it is unfair. A finer, more specific approach is required.
The integrity of our competitions depends on maintaining a fair and open two-way conversation between the competitors and the organizers. The higher we set the protest fee, the closer we come to making the statement that “Protests are not allowed.”