Petra Sörling was elected President of the International Table Tennis Federation at the Annual General Meeting, which was held in conjunction with the 2021 World Table Tennis Championships Finals in Houston.
The first female ITTF president ever
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Petra Sörling of Sweden is set to become the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) President after being confirmed as the organization’s single candidate at its Annual General Assembly (AGM) in November. Sörling has been confirmed as the lone nominee for ITTF President.
Sörling declared her candidacy in April, promising to “unify the organization” if elected. She was supposed to run against incumbent Thomas Weikert.
Last month, the German official declared his decision not to run for re-election, stating that he does not agree with “the route that the ITTF and World Table Tennis are taking.” In March, the ITTF Executive Committee informed Weikert that he had lost its “trust, confidence, and support,” and resolved to make all decisions by majority vote until the AGM.
At the same time, during the WTTC 2021, Liu Guoliang is elected as ITTF Vice President.
Weikert is criticized
Sörling has taken the lead in the ITTF’s recent governance problems, penning a joint letter with Deputy President Khalil Al-Mohannadi criticizing Weikert in May 2020. Weikert was chastised by Al-Mohannadi and Sörling for a “lack of strategical and proactive approaches… to defend the ITTF structurally and financially in these tough times.” Weikert attempted to remove Al-Mohannadi from his position as Deputy President in February of this year, but the Executive Committee reinstated the Qatari official.
Weikert was elected ITTF President for a four-year term in 2017, although has been in the position since 2014 when he took over for Canadian Adham Sharara.
Sörling has been a member of the ITTF Executive Committee since 2009, and she is currently serving her third term as executive vice-president of finance.
Sörling has been the chair of the Swedish Table Tennis Association (STTA) since 2013, and outside of table tennis, she is the CEO of a major real estate firm.
Sörling would be the third female head of a Summer Olympic International Federation, following Marisol Casado of World Triathlon and Annika Sörenstam of the International Golf Federation. She would also be the second Swede elected to manage an Olympic Federation this year.
The ITTF has confirmed that 17 applicants have been nominated for roles as executive vice presidents in the organization. However, individual Swedish table tennis players, including Olympic champion Jan-Ove Waldner, his longtime teammate Jorgen Persson and reigning No. 9 athlete Falck (Karlsson) Mattias opposed, citing nearly 100 years of world championship history (since 1926 of the year). Jan-Ove Waldner then added that the proposal itself contains a rational idea – large prize pools for 3-4 annual Grand Smashes tournaments, but the question is, where to get the money?
On this wave, on April 16, 2020, German reporters released explanations of Weikert Thomas, President of the ITTF, and he disavowed Steve Dainton’s “thinking out loud”, they say, all this does not reflect the views of the president, as well as the executive committee. Although Steve Dainton’s statement was published on the ITTF server and no one has ever removed it, links to the text are circulated on social networks with an appeal to the audience to share their views.
The thing is that there is a division of functions in the International Table Tennis Federation – here is the president, Weikert Thomas, who was elected in the spring of 2017, and the chief executive officer, Steve Dainton (ITTF CEO), who was appointed by him in the summer of 2017.
There was almost no such thing during the days of Adham Sharara (president of ITTF in 1999-2014) – the Canadian was simultaneously president and CEO, closer to the final of his reign he transferred part of his powers (CEO) into the hands of Hungarian Judit Farago, who was then kicked out.
This means that on today’s “ship” called ITTF there is a “white and fluffy” captain – he is just a “darling”, but there is also a very “cunning and evil” chief officer (senior assistant), whose role is to be a lightning rod, to make everyone work and simultaneously propose various creepy projects on their behalf.
ITTF presidents election in 2021
Congratulations to Petra Sörling, who has just been elected the 8th president of the ITTF, and the first woman to hold this position. A big thank you to outgoing President Thomas Weikert and the outgoing Executive Committee.
There have been 35 nominations for ITTF board of director posts, with 32 anticipated to be ratified at the AGM.
Another candidate for the ITTF president positions
Al-Mohannadi, Masahiro Maehara of Japan, Alaa Meshref of Egypt, and Nestor Tenca of Argentina are all running for re-election.
Russian European Table Tennis Union President Igor Levitin, Australia’s Graham Symons, Brazil’s Alaor Azevedo, China’s Liu Guoliang, and France’s Michael Gadal are also among the candidates.
Tony Yue of Hong Kong, Roland Natran of Hungary, Behnam Habibzadehmomen of Iran, Teddy Matthews of Saint Lucia, Wahid Oshodi of Nigeria, Paul Kyle of New Zealand, Dawoud Alhajri of the United Arab Emirates, and Virginia Sung of the United States round out the field. Sung is the sole female candidate for the position of ITTF executive vice-president.
Zoran Primorac of Croatia and Seungmin Ryu of South Korea remain on the Executive Committee due to their roles as chairs of the Athletes’ Commission and members of the International Olympic Committee, respectively.
Previous presidents of ITTF
This is the list of elected presidents of ITTF. All ITTF Presidents
- 1. Ivor Montagu, England (1926-1967)
- 2. H. Roy Evans, Wales (1967-1987)
- 3. Ichiro Ogimura, Japan (1987-1994)
- Lollo Hammarlund, Sweden (1994-1995)
- 5. Xu Yinsheng, Китай (1995-1999)
- 6. Adham Sharara, Canada (August 1999 to 2017) new date – until September 1, 2014 ( moved to the chair of the ITTF chairman)
- 7. Thomas Weikert, Germany ( September 1, 2014, to 2017, elected until 2021 )
- 8. The first woman Petra Sorling, Sweden (2021-2025)
The new era of ITTF
Petra Sörling of Sweden was elected today as the International Table Tennis Federation’s seventh President (ITTF). She will usher the governing body into a new era as the first woman in this post and one of just four women now heading an Olympic International Federation.
Her primary goal is to create value through membership-centered governance while increasing table tennis’s commercial growth, which is supported by four pillars: the ITTF family, governance, growth, and sustainability.
“I am very honored to have been chosen for this position,” Sörling stated after being elected. “I’d want to express my gratitude to all of my beloved friends and colleagues from the complete table tennis family.” I would like to be President for all of you. In the future years, I will work for and alongside you. And I will maintain my pledge to you – to listen – because reaching my goal of heading the ITTF will be impossible without your valuable ideas and commitments.
The ITTF President is elected by the collected representatives of the member associations for a four-year term, with the option of running for re-election in the same post no more than twice. Thomas WEIKERT is replaced as President by the next President.
Sörling has been involved in table tennis governance for over 20 years. She was elected to the ITTF Executive Committee in 2009 and quickly rose through the ranks to take responsibility for numerous crucial areas for the 226-member federation, including the Para division, sustainability, and, most notably, accepting the job of ITTF Executive Vice President of Finance in 2013. Sörling also had a successful real estate career in the dynamic city of Malmö, Sweden.
“I am excited to begin working with the Executive Committee and to serve our 226 Member Associations.” Let us all work together to achieve our common objective of ‘Table Tennis.’ For Everyone. “Forever and ever.”
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