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Mr Farouk Barki: the answers to UMB/Korean conflict

Posted by on June 28, 2018

Mr Farouk Barki: the answers to UMB/Korean conflict

© Kozoom Studio
UMB president Farouk Barki, an interview to speak about the UMB/Korean conflict

CAIRO - The world federation of billiards UMB and the Korean federation leading one of the main countries in carom billiards, have been engaged in a dragging conflict for months. The fight has led to the withdrawal of big Korean tournaments from the international calendar and threatening players with suspensions and penalties. The Koreans want a 'status apart' in organizing UMB tournaments, the world federation adheres to the internationally applicable rules. The next World Cup tournament in Porto (2 to 8 July) and the 3CC Masters Chalenge in Seoul in the week after, are coming up.

The president of the world federation, Mr. Farouk Barki, on the eve of these tournaments, gives openness in a long-standing controversy which is in an impasse now. The conflict is putting players under pressure and is treatening the 2018 calendar, which contains new impulses with new, big prize money tournaments. Mr. Barki tried many times to negotiate with Korean leaders and to come up with a quick solution. The attempts have failed for the time being.

The main questions within the billiard world include:

What is the reason for the Korean conflict, why do the parties face each other?
How threatening is the conflict for players?
Who or what can cause a breakthrough?

Dutch journalist Frits Bakker spoke with the president of the world federation, Mr Barki from Cairo, about the current situation.

Frits Bakker: How can it be that billiard players worldwide are on the brink of the best period in their careers, that there is a wonderful calendar with major events, and that in spite of this, the future is overshadowed by unrest amongst the federations?
Mr. Farouk Barki: This is not true, in my opinion UMB efforts for the development of billiard worldwide last two years are appreciated very much by all National Federations and Organizers. The proof is that for the first time in UMB history the Sports Calendar is 90% full untill 2022.

FB: The key problem is the conflict between the UMB, the world organization, and the KBF, the Korean national federation. What caused this, and what is the conflict about?
Mr. Barki: The conflict is concerning the new Sports Rules and Events published on UMB Website on 20th December 2017. Although, all these rules and events were approved unanimously by UMB Board during its board meeting in Hurghada on 7th December 2017, Mr. Nam, KBF President, was present at this meeting and voted YES. Few weeks after coming back from Egypt, he changed his mind completely and UMB Board was surprised that KBF was refusing the new Sports Rules and Events. All UMB Board decisions are following UMB Constitution and UMB Rights.

FB: To understand well, which UMB rules are now rejected by KBF?
Mr. Barki: Contrary to the rumors and misinformation spread in Korean media and on social networks since several weeks, which I don't blame them for as they are misled, getting wrong information from KBF, the UMB did not strictly take any measures penalizing the media rights already granted to the KBF last year for the competitions for which they were responsible, namely the World Cup and the LG U + Cup. The real issue comes from the fact that KBF does not allow any international events in Korea that are not organized by themselves or their marketing agency. This decision is in total contradiction with the constitution and rules of the UMB who grants to the UMB partner, Kozoom International, the rights to promote new events, such as the new series of Masters tournaments and the Continental Cup, without any geographical constraint, Article 151 of UMB Constitution.

FB: Do you mean that the LG U+ Cup and the World Cup in Korea are not any more visible in the UMB calendar because the KBF does not allow Kozoom events to take place in Korea?
Mr. Barki: Yes. It's as simple as that. I should say: it's as sad as that because, now, rumors say KBF keeps escalating the conflict by threatening to sanction all Korean players who will compete in UMB competitions after the Porto World Cup. If this is confirmed, KBF is going straight into the wall.

FB: How firmly are both parties opposed right now?
Mr. Barki: In my opinion, any kind of problems can be solved face to face. UMB did show many times its goodwill, I have sent many emails to find a win-win solution. I visited Korea together with Xavier Carrer from Kozoom last April to meet with KBF and find solutions for our problems and conflicts, and it was not appreciated and welcomed. Even Kozoom representative could not join the only meeting KBF accepted to organize with myself during my 5-day stay in Seoul. Later, I invited Mr. Nam to sit face to face in Ho Chi Minh City and Blankenberge and he declined both time. What can you expect when your interlocutor is acting like this to solve a conflict?

Mr. Farouk Barki during the World championship for nations in which South Korea took the world title

FB: Is this a power struggle between the umbrella organization and Korea, the foremost billiard country in the world?
Mr. Barki: With all my respect to KBF, the board members who are taking such action should not consider themselves as the owners of billiards in Korea. They don't own the millions of Korean fans, they don't own the numerous private clubs and billiards companies that are taking part in the development of the sport in their country. Kozoom International, who is also a Korean company, has brought its huge contribution to promote 3-Cushion. There were over 1400 hours of UMB matches on the main sport TVs in Korea last year and we should all thank our partner for it. Trying to block any initiative from a private company to make our sport more professional is a non-sense. KBF should remember it is a non-profit organization, a member as all other National Federations, UMB is the sole governing body worldwide, and if KBF wants to be part of the World, UMB Constitution, Rules and Board Decisions should be respected.

FB: Are we facing a situation similar to the one we had with the BWA, where an organization separates itself and players are suspended from playing UMB events?
Mr. Barki: Comparison is not correct, time and situation are different, during BWA time, there was no Prize Money for UMB events, and Top Players wanted to secure their future. For 2018, players are competing for over 2 Million Euro prize money from UMB events.

FB: What are the consequences for players and organizations?
Mr. Barki: The most important element of any sports organization are the players, therefor, UMB will keep its way for Billiard promotion and make sure that players will get what they deserve. UMB philosophy is to protect players, not to penalize them.

FB: How do the top players feel about this controversy? Are they divided in their opinions, or are they unanimous?
Mr. Barki: I'm trying to do my best to keep all players, including Korean players, out of this conflict, I can confirm to you that all Top Players appreciate what UMB is doing, and they have shown unanimously their support to UMB, you can ask them.

FB: Can we seriously believe the KBF will penalize players and forbid them to play in UMB events?
Mr. Barki: In case this will happen, it will be for the first time to happen in UMB history. And in any International Federation history as far as I know, it will be for the first time that a National body is working against all his players, and against IOC and NOCs rules. I don't think that Korean Olympic Committee will agree with such decision. The moment UMB will receive any official statement, or will monitor such action from KBF, we will deal with the matter. Anyway, we have UMB General Assembly next October, and in case the situation will remain the same, it will be on top of our agenda.

FB: Who or what could make a breakthrough in this painful matter?
Mr. Barki: If the KBF persists in refusing to meet UMB, I think the only solution will come from the players, especially the Korean ones today. Their future is into their hands and together, they can be strong enough to find the good way.

FB: The World Cup in Porto is still played with a complete field of top players. How disappointed are you that the new 3CC Masters series will have to start off with top players missing?
Mr. Barki: I'm optimistic by nature, and I hope that solutions will be found soon. As for the first new 3CC Masters, I regret that 3 of the Top 20 players are not participating, the 3 players are Koreans, and as KBF will have a local event at the same time, UMB showed its goodwill again and respected the 3 players decision for this time only.

FB: Thank you for the interview Mr. President, I hope we will stay in touch to keep Billiards community informed about the issue.
Mr. Barki: You are welcome. You know, Korean Billiard community did hear the story from one side till now, KBF side, and I'm sure that they miss big part of the truth. Therefor, I'm arranging a Press Conference at Imperial Hotel, Gangnam, Seoul, on Wednesday 11th July, 2018, evening, and I hope that part of Korean Billiard community, Korean Media, Korean Billiard Companies will attend this conference to know the truth.

The Korean top players gathered during one of last year's World Cups in La Baule

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My Comments

Let's join hands
For the better future of 3c game, can we all just get along. Players, organizers, viewers, and promoters please come together to find a peaceful solution, "don't control it but let it free". Bravo to all the people have worked so hard for the love of this game, please don't let the bright future come too short. PEACE!

Message 1/1 - Publish at June 30, 2018 4:37 AM

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