The Sydney Morning Herald reported overnight that International Swimming League teams and athletes are mulling a boycott of the league’s upcoming playoff round that is set to begin on November 11 in Eindhoven, Netherlands. At issue is the lack of payment for athletes, staff, and contractors.
Rob Woodhouse, the general manager of the London Roar team that includes the lion’s share of Australians in the league, expressed his frustration to the SMH.
“It’s not good enough. I’m really hoping all athletes are paid in full from last season before the playoffs commence on November 11,” Woodhouse said.
While some swimmers have told SwimSwam that they were paid in full for the 2021 season, others have said that they have been continually promised timelines for full payments that weren’t met. Others couldn’t even figure out if they had been paid in full, because of the chaotic and disorganized nature of the payments that have repeatedly failed to adhere to provided schedules.
One non-athlete league source said that their payments for this season have been on time, and in advance, but others have said that they have not been paid.
Many of the league’s athletes are currently competing at the World Cup, organized by league-rival FINA, where payments have been quick and consistent.
This is the latest in a long run of accusations of non-payment by the league (see here, here, and here). To this point, the league has brushed aside these complaints and replaced the individuals or contractors who have lodged them the following season.
While it’s not clear if this is a formal athletes’ association action, the non-payments have been a hot topic in the athletes’ association WhatsApp group, though none wished to speak publicly on the topic. This growing discontentment does highlight the inevitable awkwardness of a conflict between talent and management when management has funded and organized the talent’s union.
The league’s management holds and appoints at least 4 out of 10 seats on the athletes’ association’s board of directors.
The Sydney Morning Herald article brought up vague claims of certain teams or athletes mulling a boycott, and athletes that SwimSwam spoke with on Saturday were similarly vague. None wanted to formally declare discussions of a boycott, but none totally dispelled that possibility either.
American Beata Nelson leads all swimmers with $64,150 earned so far in the ISL 2021 season.