To the Members of IMMAF
Here is the report from the independent inquiry into problems within IMMAF and its operations, as expressed in over 30 complaints from Member representatives, staff, and others involved in IMMAF activities. It also contains suggestions for corrections, whichI hope will improve IMMAF and its work for MMA. The sport, and all its athletes deserve it.
May 28, 2023
IMMAF Honorary President and Founder
The financial state of IMMAF is currently in a critical condition, marked by significant losses over the past few years. Despite this, the existing budget permits a substantial deficit. Both staff and Members of IMMAF have expressed their surprise and concern regarding this situation. Moreover, even Board members were caught off guard by these developments. Regrettably, the President and CEO have been the only individuals with complete oversight and control of the financial situation, as they have denied Board members access to the accounts. Consequently, the Board is unable to make well-informed decisions on resolving the issue. Furthermore, there have been reports suggesting that the President has engaged in excessive travel activities, disregarding the financial strain experienced by IMMAF. The organization’s Statutes explicitly prohibit the payment of fees to elected officials without the approval of the General Assembly. However, there appears to be insufficient monitoring and control of their expenses in practice.
1. All Board members must have full access to the accounts.
2. The Board should appoint a Treasurer among its members to supervise accounts and report to the Board.
3. The Board should consider who has access to IMMAF bank accounts and how so, in order to ensure transparency.
4. Payments to elected and appointed IMMAF officials, and to enterprises of theirs, must be reported to the Board.
5. All contracts must be approved by the Board before signing.
6. Financial Reports and Budgets must be itemized in enough detail for the Board, the General Assembly, and Members to make informed judgments.
The IMMAF website currently does not provide any minutes beyond the year 2021, and there are no Annual Reports, Accounts, or Audit Reports available beyond 2020. As a result, there is a notable absence of reports concerning the recent years of financial challenges, despite the importance of transparency in such circumstances. Moreover, the existing documents on the website lack crucial details, such as the dates of creation, authorship, and the approving body. Additionally, there is insufficient information on how to directly contact Committees and Commissions, and in many cases, the names of their members are not listed.
1. Board and General Assembly Minutes, Annual Reports, Financial Reports, Budgets, and other official documents should swiftly be distributed to the Members and posted on the IMMAF website.
2. The writers of Minutes should be named.
3. The members of Committees and Commissions should be listed on the IMMAF website. The Terms of Reference documents should be dated and the body approving them specified.
4. IMMAF Policies should be dated, also any revision of them, and the body approving them specified.
5. Email addresses to the Board as a whole, to individual Board members, to Committees, and to Commissions should be accessible to the Members and the Staff, preferably also on the IMMAF website.
6. For all official IMMAF email addresses (also firstname.lastname@example.org), the receivers should be clearly stated om the IMMAF website.
7. Any decision of significance made in the IMMAF organization should be documented and its deciding official or body named.
Numerous individuals involved in IMMAF and its activities have expressed their dissatisfaction with the manner in which their complaints have been handled by IMMAF officials. These reports indicate that their grievances, even of a serious nature, have been dismissed or ignored by various IMMAF representatives, including the Director of Member Services. Disturbingly, specific instances have been cited, such as
allegedly allowing an individual convicted of the rape of a minor to continue working with youth, and another person accused of sexual harassment being elected to a position of ethical significance within IMMAF.
Additionally, there are allegations of certain teams receiving preferential treatment from IMMAF officials during championships.
Compounding the issue is the absence of a clear and direct avenue for lodging complaints with the relevant officials or bodies, alongside insufficient information on the IMMAF website regarding the appropriate procedures for filing a complaint. As a likely consequence of these deficiencies, the Discipline Committee has not received any cases for consideration since the implementation of its policies in 2021. Consequently, the committee, including its chairperson, has experienced significant resignations, reportedly leaving only one remaining member.
1. Complaints within IMMAF must be seriously considered and actions on them documented.
2. It must be possible to make a complaint directly to a specific IMMAF official or body of choice.
3. A complaint directed to the wrong IMMAF official or body should be responded with that information and advice on how to proceed.
4. An IMMAF official receiving an oral complaint should report it and how it was acted upon to the proper IMMAF authority.
5. Serious allegations, such as harassment, impropriety, or other misconduct towards individuals or groups, must be duly processed and documented by relevant IMMAF officials and bodies.
6. Response by IMMAF officials and staff to complaints should always be respectful and with concern.
7. The IMMAF website should have instructions on how to make complaints and where to send them.
The staff members have raised several concerns regarding the work environment, primarily attributed to a leadership style characterized by recklessness, particularly on the part of the President and CEO. Staff members have reported a lack of communication and disregard for their work, resulting in being left uninformed or ignored.
Furthermore, their efforts have been disrespected and subjected to interference. Payments to staff have been delayed, and overall planning has been characterized as disorganized and haphazard. Additionally, staff members have expressed the strain of excessive workloads and demanding schedules. Disturbingly, complaints made by staff have been met with intimidation or exclusion by senior officials, specifically the President and CEO.
Another area of concern pertains to the employment structure, as staff members express a sense of insecurity due to their status as contractors rather than employees. The hiring and termination of staff are solely managed by the President and CEO, lacking transparent procedures or meaningful dialogue with the Board.
Furthermore, there have been multiple reports indicating that competent officials who have previously served at IMMAF championships have been replaced by less experienced individuals. This change has adversely impacted the safety, quality and reliability of these events.
1. A Human Resources consultant should be hired to examine and improve the IMMAF staff situation.
2. Regular as well as temporary staff should be guaranteed reasonable hours and workloads, and knowledge of their schedules well in advance.
3. Staff for the ordinary activities of IMMAF should be employees instead of contractors.
4. Responsibilities of staff members should be clearly defined and respected.
5. Diverse opinions and critique from staff members should be welcomed and must not lead to mistreatment.
6. The Board in its entirety should have meetings with the staff for open dialogue and exchange of views.
7. The hiring and firing of staff should be approved in advance by the Board.
Division of Power
Several reports from both staff and Members highlight a significant concentration of power within IMMAF, primarily stemming from the close personal relationship between the President and CEO. Their longstanding friendship and shared background in judo have resulted in the two individuals effectively running IMMAF by themselves This concentration of power poses a challenge to the authority of the Board and undermines the efficacy of various organizational bodies.
The President and CEO frequently make crucial decisions without seeking the approval or even informing the Board in advance. Moreover, they selectively withhold information from Board members, further exacerbating the issue. Grave examples of this behavior include the CEO’s decision to convene an Extraordinary Assembly in June 2023, the President and CEO’s refusal to grant Board members access to the
organization’s accounts, and the President’s unilateral negotiations with Brave FC without prior Board discussion. Such actions are incompatible with the principles of a democratic organization and cannot be deemed acceptable.
1. It must be respected by all that the Board is the executive body of IMMAF, its decisive power surpassing that of the President as well as the CEO.
2. Neither the President nor the CEO should withhold information from the Board.
3. Important plans and activities must be approved in advance by the Board.
4. IMMAF directives to the Members must have the consent of the Board.
5. A final recommendation revolves around the necessity for IMMAF to reconsider its approach to the position of President. It is unsuitable that the President remains financially dependent on IMMAF as his primary source of income. Currently, the President is fully engaged in various business activities such as securing event hosts and sponsorships, significantly diverting his time and attention away from the organization. To address this, it is proposed that a Sales Director be recruited, reporting directly to the Board, thereby allowing the President to serve in a pro bono capacity.