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Thread: Skaters changing citizenship and Feds

  1. #16
    Yulia and Ruslena team forever! Alba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    I think this is a slippery slope. We paid for your training so now we own you. This is the argument that Iron Curtain countries used in the cold war to justify, for instance, the Berlin Wall. We gave you a state-paid-for education, so now we will not permit you to leave and take that investment out of the country. We will, in fact, shoot you if you try to leave.
    First of all I think this has nothing to do with skating and if I'm not mistaken Fed's from other countries, which were not part of the Iron Curtain but the "silk curtain" have the same attitude.
    This is not about the right for education, health or food. So let's not exaggerate here, and just for info. Berlin Wall, and the eastern block was not about: "We gave you a state-paid-for education, so now we will not permit you to leave and take that investment out of the country."

    Back to reality. I didn't said "We paid for your training so now we own you" but that the Fed should have a say.
    I personally don't have any problem if a skater wants to leave, but I do understand also that it's not a thing that you can so easily define as black or white.
    In football for example you can't switch nationalities as many times as you like, and they're not even paid by their Fed.

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alba View Post
    In football for example you can't switch nationalities as many times as you like, and they're not even paid by their Fed.
    While I don't know much about football/soccer -They have far more moments/opportunities in the spotlight, to make a name for themselves and make money via a huge contract with a team or through sponsorship deals then figure skating does.

  3. #18
    Yulia and Ruslena team forever! Alba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amei View Post
    While I don't know much about football/soccer -They have far more moments/opportunities in the spotlight, to make a name for themselves and make money via a huge contract with a team or through sponsorship deals then figure skating does.
    Yes, but a WC is huge. Even bigger than the Olympics and there are many talented players who never had a chance to play and show themselves. For them is a big thing, so if we are making this discussion a matter of "rights", the moments&opportunities in the spotlight that a football player might (or might not, players from Africa especially have the WC mostly to show and be known) have is irrelevant.

    Anyway, as I said I have no problems regarding nationalities and patriotism thing. I don't care much about that tbh, and I don't think that's an issue for Fed's in general as well, but I do believe that it's not such an easy thing.
    I think both skaters involved and their Fed's can reach a middle ground on this issue, based on their result, opportunities and other factors that might be involved.

  4. #19
    Custom Title breathesgelatin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkateFiguring View Post
    In most cases, a skater or other athlete, does not actually change or abandon his/her citizenship but is just taking advantage of dual citizenships, existing or acquiring for career purposes. Usually that is because of some tie s/he has with another country. The tie with the original nation remains, with or without official citizenship. To me, an affection for and contribution to a society, any society including the global community, is more meaningful than nationalism.

    Also, in most cases, a skater would change the country s/he skates for only because of limited or non existing opportunities for international competitions. The switch may just help foster the sport in another country, spreading its popularity and developing a new talent pool.
    I agree with you in that I do not think nationalism is a very healthy thing. And you're correct in most cases 'changing' really just means 'obtaining dual citizenship.' I do have concerns for any skater who actually must rescind their original citizenship in order to skate for a different country - I would worry they have not considered all the consequences over the course of their lifetime. Of course, most countries do not require that the athlete give up their original citizenship.

    Quote Originally Posted by Amei View Post
    1 thing that annoys me (though I don't how much this applies to skaters) is these athletes that represent a country, they weren't born and don't live there. When they were doing the opening ceremony this year and going through the athletes, they had 1 like that.
    Yes, I get frustrated with people who seem to capitalize on a small nation for 15 minutes of fame. I don't see this much in skating but it happens in other sports. For example:

    http://deadspin.com/dominicas-fake-s...e-p-1529973935

  5. #20
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alba View Post
    ...just for info. Berlin Wall, and the eastern block was not about: "We gave you a state-paid-for education, so now we will not permit you to leave and take that investment out of the country."
    What exactly was the rationale for building walls to keep the people in? Why not just let everyone defect who wanted to, good riddance?

    Same with figure skaters. You want to go, please go. Now. Don't let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya.

  6. #21
    Yulia and Ruslena team forever! Alba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    What exactly was the rationale for building walls to keep the people in? Why not just let everyone defect who wanted to, good riddance?

    Same with figure skaters. You want to go, please go. Now. Don't let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya.
    Are you really making that question or just kidding? Are you comparing the Berlin Wall and the eastern block with this? Do I really have to explain a history well known?!

    Berlin's fate, and the whole Eastern Europe's fate, was decided even before the Soviets went there, with the blessing of GB and USA, thank you.
    It was not about investments, it was about geopolitics, ideology and power balance.
    Where exactly the Iron Curtain analogy comes when speaking about a Fed like USA, Italy or any other Fed who doesn't let their skaters go?
    I really can't believe we're even going there.

  7. #22
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    Berlin Wall was built in early 1960's in order to prevent East German (young) people's defection to the Wast. Before that, they were free to leave their country. As the economic gap between East and West widens, even more people chose to run for wealth and freedom. The rulers of the Eastern bloc could not allow that to continue otherwise the whole system of socialism would collapse.

    In the world of amateur sports, no one dare leave their country in pursuit of more intense competitions (and less chances). Resource "rich" countries don't need to worry about losing their #5 or #6 status athletes. In fact, a country like Russia can benefit from exporting atheletes to their clients who could be asked helps when necessary.

  8. #23
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alba View Post
    Are you really making that question or just kidding?
    I guess I am just kidding.

    But this is what I think. Let's say you live in Canada. You can leave any time you want and go to whatever country will have you. Once you get there you can do whatever you want with respect to earning a living and participating in recreational activities, provided the host country is cool with it. The Prime Minister of Canada does not reach put and prevent you from practicing your profession abroad. Neither should the Canadian Figure Skating Association (of all things!) What does Skate Canada have to do with whether Suzi Q skates for Timbuktu or not. That is between Timbuktu and Suzie.

    Up with people! Down with the establishment!

  9. #24
    Custom Title spikydurian's Avatar
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    Don't see any problem with skaters skating for another country if that is what they wish and is accepted by the other side. If there is a binding contract between the original Fed and the skater who wish to leave then it is up to the skater to sort it out. Human movement is very fluid these days. Dual or maybe triple citizenships are common.

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alba View Post
    In football for example you can't switch nationalities as many times as you like, and they're not even paid by their Fed.
    I think it is easier in football. Costa who originally was a Brazilian switched to Spanish when he moved to Spain and now switched back to play for Brazil during this past year. Brazilian Pepe and Deco switched to Protugal. England always want to have Giggs playing for them.

    The rule was easier before you only need the new citizenship before switching country but now FIFA made the two-years gap rule.

  11. #26
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    depends on the countries proccess and family/ethnic affiliations

    Anna Pogorilaya - for Ukraine ?
    Nikol Gosviyani - Georgia ?
    Moris Kvitelashvili - Georgia ?
    Evgenia Medvedeva - Armenia ?

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by spikydurian View Post
    Human movement is very fluid these days. Dual or maybe triple citizenships are common.
    Apart from some countries, most of skaters responsible for their own training financially. They sure want to get somewhere with their effort and make their money worthwhile. Even the Russian Fed seems ok with the switching in the past.

    Family connections are very important to some races. Especially Asian, the old/mother country is something we've been cherished even in the second or third generations.

  13. #28
    EZETTIE LATUASV IVAKMHA CaroLiza_fan's Avatar
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    This is a hard one. I can understand why some sportspeople would want to switch countries. If there is too much competition to have a chance of getting onto their home country’s national team, or if they are not getting the support the deserve from their country’s national federation.

    I have no problem of people switching to a country with which they have a family connection to further their career. For example, Ashley Cain with Australia; Nikol Gosviani with Georgia; Samantha Cesario with Italy; Agnes Zawadzki with Poland; or Anna Pogorilaya with the Ukraine.

    I can put up with people switching country if they have lived in that country for a long time. For example, Kristina Dubrovskaya with Cyprus.

    But I am not in favour in people switching to countries with which they have no connection whatsoever.

    Of course, this is simple with Singles Skating. It is more complicated with Pairs Skating and Ice Dance, where you may have couples where the skaters are from different countries. Which is why I personally believe that the nationality of each skater in the couple should be classified individually. But, that is a different debate altogether.


    I know I’ve brought this up numerous times since I joined this forum, and I’m sure you’re getting bored hearing about it. But, it is relevant to this discussion. So sorry, but I’m going to talk about it again.

    People from Northern Ireland automatically have dual British and Irish citizenship. So, we can opt to compete for either country without having to go through all the red tape involved with gaining citizenship.

    Which country a sportsperson opts for often becomes a major issue in the media, because of the political situation here. If you opt to compete for Ireland, you get condemned by the Unionist community; if you opt to compete for Great Britain, you get condemned by the Nationalist community.

    There is no winning. You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t.

    My personal view is this: since you are going to get condemned no matter what you do, you are better off looking after number one. Choose the country with which you have more chance of getting selected.

    And, on pure mathematics, Ireland is often the better option. Smaller population; therefore less people to choose from; therefore more chance of getting selected.

    The last time I was talking about this, I used the example of a couple of guys I went to school with (see this post). My old school is very big into field hockey. If you play hockey, you can get away with anything! And we have produced a lot of players that have gone on to compete internationally.

    Unlike in football, Northern Ireland does not have it’s own hockey team. Instead there is an all-Ireland team, like in rugby. As a result, players from here come up through the Irish system, and if they are good enough to play internationally, they get selected to play for Ireland.

    Hockey is a big sport up here in the North, whereas it is only a very minor sport in the South. So, unlike the Irish rugby team which has always tended to be dominated by Southern players, the Irish hockey team has always tended to be dominated by Northern players.

    But, last year, these 2 guys decided to switch to Great Britain. It seemed to be purely a logistical decision – they are both currently at University in England, and so can’t get back to Ireland to train as often. But, it would be a lot handier to get to training sessions that are just 2 hours down the road.

    Although hockey is not a big sport over in Great Britain, the sheer difference in population means that there are more hockey players over on that island than there are on this island. So, it would be much harder for a player to get onto the British team than the Irish team.

    They are now currently on a embargo (which is good for their studies!), but by the time it runs out, they will be finished Uni. And, if they then move back home, they will be in the same position all over again!

    So, to me, this seems like a very foolish and short-sighted decision.


    Last week, I finally got round to posting the poster I made of all of Northern Ireland’s Olympic and Paralympic Gold medallists (see this post).

    As you probably know, the Commonwealth Games are being held in Glasgow this summer. Unlike the Olympics (but like football), each country in the UK has it’s own team in the Commonwealth Games.

    So, taking cycling as an example, Mark Cavendish will be competing for the Isle of Man; Bradley Wiggins will be competing for England; and Geraint Thomas will be competing for Wales.

    If you are from Northern Ireland, it doesn’t matter whether you represent Ireland or Great Britain at the Olympics and World Championships, you are still eligible to compete for Team NI.

    Two of our Gold medallists from the London 2012 Summer Paralympics have been selected for the Northern Ireland team – Jason Smyth (Athletics) and Bethany Firth (Swimming)

    At the time, both of them were competing for Team Ireland. But, a few days ago (when our Commonwealth Games team was announced), I found out that Bethany (who is now 18) has now switched to competing for Team GB.

    Bethany already had a slot on an international team, and won a Gold medal at the last Paralympics for that team. But she has given it up and switched to a country where there will be MORE competition for slots. It just didn’t make sense to me.

    But, I have now found out the reason for the switch (see this story from the Belfast Telegraph). Ironically, it is BECAUSE the British team have more swimmers in her category that Bethany made the switch.

    Bethany was the first S14 swimmer that Swim Ireland had worked with. And it became clear that they didn’t know what they were doing. But British Swimming have more experience with S14 swimmers. So Bethany and her family felt that she would be able to go further in her sport if she was with the British team.

    Bethany has already achieved what most sportspeople aim for – an Olympic/Paralympic Gold medal. The only thing she can aim for now is to maintain her position at the top of her sport. And she cannot do that working with inexperienced people.

    Although I do think Bethany is taking a big chance switching to a team where there is competition for the international slot, I think she has made the right decision.


    So, in these 2 examples, we have seen 2 different reasons for switching country. With the hockey players, they switched to the country they were now living in for logistical reasons. With the swimmer, she switched country to get better support.

    Of course, the people in these examples are from Northern Ireland, so they are already eligible for both Team Ireland and Team GB. So, there is no issues with regard connections with the country they are switching to.

    But if, say, Bethany was trying to get into the Russian team to get more support, and had no connections whatsoever with Russia, I think I would be against it.

    Which is exactly the situation Ahn Hyun-Soo was in when he switched to Russia.

    I can totally understand and sympathise with the difficult position Ahn found himself in. But, I think I would be more comfortable with it if he had switched to a country where he had some sort of connection to.

    Hey, wouldn’t it have been the ultimate 2-fingers to the KSU if Ahn had switched to North Korea…

    (Mind you, you can imagine how that would have gone down with his fans in South Korea. They may support him skating for Russia, but I don’t think they would support him skating for North Korea!)

    CaroLiza_fan

  14. #29
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    I find it more understandable for dancers or pair skaters who cannot find a suitable partner in their own country. In Britain, we have seen 3 good skaters switch to France in the last few years, Vanessa James, Lloyd Jones and Tiffany Zahorski - all of them moved because the French federation was able to find them partners of a suitable level, and support their training. Mervin Tran skated for Japan, was pretty much dumped by that federation when it became cleanr he couldn't get citizenship for the Olympics, he has tried to find a partner in Canada but it hasn't worked, so I understand why he now thinks his best option is to switch to partnering someone in the US. I also have no problem if skaters are from a country where the federation has done little or nothing to support their career - e.g. Zabijako's argument that Estonia should not stop her release for skating for Russia because they have never given her any financial support.

    However, I do have problems with skaters switching just because they aren't good enough to get international assignments in their original country - e.g Melissa B changing from the US to the Philippines, or Alison Reed whose entire career has been spent hopping from country to country in Europe, when the only time she ever goes near those places is when she shows up at Europeans.

    I also sympathise with federations not wanting to release skaters if they have invested a considerable amount of money in them. For example in the I/K & S/Z split case, had one of the skaters wanted to skate with someone from another country, I think the Russian federation would have been perfectly justified not releasing them. They have financed their training, competitions & living expenses for at least 5 years - costs that can easily amount to £500K per skater over that length of time, and for a skater at that stage of their career, that figure would still be viewed as an investment which they would expect to be repaid over the next few years through winning World & Olympic medals. It's not fair for a skater to take all the benefits of coming up through a system like that which supports them, and then decide to trot off to skate for someone else. Federations have limited resources and are entitled to think that they, and not a random other country will reap the rewards of the money they invest in their skaters. In those cases, either the federation of the country the skater wants to move to should make some sort of compensation to the original federation, just as you would with transfer fees in football, or the federation should be entitled to hold the skater for a specified time (I think at the moment they can for up to 3 years, at which point the skater can appeal to the ISU for their release.) Of course, if a federation is willing & able to financially help their skaters in the way that France & Russia do, usually they do try to find new partners or coaches so the skaters don't feel compelled to change countries.

  15. #30
    Rinkside
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    I think Vanessa James was a US/GB dual citizen, raised in US who competed in UK in singles originally for chances she would not have got in USA. Then she swapped to France for pairs. A good decision for her.

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