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THE HISTORY OF AIPS (1924 – 2005)

Facts and Figures

The Past

Foundation of AIPS

The first time a considerable number of sports journalists gathered together at a major sporting event in the 20th century was the Olympic Games in Antwerp in 1920. The need and idea to unite the world’s sports journalists was first born there.

The AIPS was actually founded in 1924 during the Olympic Games in Paris, at the Headquarters of the Sporting Club of France, (rue d’Elysee), by France’s Frantz Reichel (Press Chief of the Paris Olympic Games) and the Belgian Victor Boin, assisted by their colleagues Tegner (Sweden), Sekora (Czechoslovakia) and Pozzi (France) who held there the first AIPS Congress July 1-3, 1924. 29 nations were present.

On the ring in the Sporting Club of France, all the partecipants in the foundational Congress in Paris in 1924


Frantz Reichel was elected president , Victor Boin vice-president, Georges Bruni (France) general secretary. This first committee finalised the Statutes which were approved on July 22, 1924.

Founding Members

Eight of the represented countries gathered their journalists within a national association, observing also the statutes of AIPS. Those countries were: France, Belgium, Sweden, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Germany and Austria. They can be considered therefore as the founding members of the AIPS.

Frank Reichel, founder and first President


Initial aim of the AIPS

The first statutes of AIPS mentions among the aims of the Association the following:

to enhance the cooperation between its member associations in defending sport and the professional interest of their members.
to strengthen the friendship, solidarity and common interests between sports journalists of all countries.
to assure the best possible working conditions for the members.

Leadership of AIPS throughout the years

Due to the sudden passing away of Frantz Reichel in his office at the ’Le Figaro’, the third AIPS Congress in Ostende, Belgium, in 1932 appointed as president Victor Boin who remained at the head of AIPS until 1956! From 1932 the congresses have been held every year.

After the Second World War the AIPS had to start its work again from scratch. This can be considered the second era of AIPS. At the electoral congress in 1948 in London Victor Boin was elected president, Marcel Reichel (son of the late Frantz Reichel) as vice-president while another Belgian, Antoine Herbauts was elected general secretary.

In 1956, at the 20th AIPS Congress in Cortina d’Ampezzo president Victor Boin expressed his wish to retire. And so, the task was passed on the Swiss "trio” of Henri Schihin (president), Max Ehinger (general secretary) and Lucino Valsangiacomo (treasurer). They led AIPS for eight years.

After handing over the Presidency,
in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Victor Boin
is accompanied by Max Ehinger and Henri Schihin

After serving as AIPS first vice-president for four years Felix Levitan (France) - chief editor of the daily ’Parisien Libere’ and patron of the Tour de France – was elected president at the electoral congress in Munich, 1964, with the Soviet Union’s Petr Sobolev (press chief of the historic conference in Yalta) as first vice-president and Antoine Herbauts as general secretary.

At the 37th Congress in London in 1973 Felix Levitan and Antoine Herbauts passed over the leadership to Great Britain, Frank Taylor as president and Bobby Naidoo general secretary.

In the presence of Princess Anne, Felix Levitan pronounces the opening speech in the London Congress in 1973

At the 41st congress in 1977 in Milano Marittima, Italy Enrico Crespi was elected president and Massimo Della Pergola general secretary. As most of the AIPS work was done by Massimo Della Pergola and deputy general secretary Istvan Gyulai, Enrico Crespi lost the election at the Sao Paolo Congress in 1981 and Frank Taylor became president again with Massimo Della Pergola general secretary. Frank Taylor’s outstanding personality and the energy of Massimo Della Pergola were to give AIPS the powerful image and prestige which exists at all levels to this current day.

Enrico Crespi presides the working sessione of the Sao Paolo Congress in 1981

Massimo Della Pergola left behind 12 years of very successful work as general secretary when he decided to retire in 1989 at the congress in Gothenburg. His successor was Istvan Gyulai while Togay Bayatli (Turkey) became a vice-president.

Frank Taylor signs the book of honour in Jaca City Hall in the presence of the Major, Armando Abadia, durino the meeting of the Executive Committee in 1989

The tireless Matti Salmenkyla (Finland) who has worked in AIPS since 1977 took the place of Istvan Gyulai as general secretary at the 1992 Budapest Congress. Istvan Gyulai was elected IAAF general secretary a few weeks later.

Togay Bayatli durino his intervention in the ceremony held in Oviedo in Jannuary 1977 to present the LX Congress
The Executive Committee reelected in Helsinki in 1952. Sitting: Victor Boin and Antoine Herbauts. Standing: from left to right, William McGowram, Emile Goebel, Paul Brexxitz, Henir Schinin and Bruno Roghi.

At the electoral congress in Istanbul in 1993 new people took almost all positions in the Executive Committee with Togay Bayatli becoming president and Carl-Gustav Stenfeldt first vice-president. Matti Salmenkyla remained general secretary.

Matti said good bye to AIPS in 2001 at the Toronto Congress, leaving the way for Malta’s Charles Camenzuli (who had been in the AIPS Executive Committee since 1989) to become general secretary. Alain Lunzenfichter was re-elected as first vice-president, a position he held from 1997 untill 2005.

The next, big change in the composition of the executive committee members came at the electoral congress in 2005, in Marrakesh, Morocco, when more than a half of the members were replaced under the leadership of new president Gianni Merlo (Italy), who won with an overwhelming majority.

Gianni Merlo was re-elected in Milan (2009) and in Sochi (2013).

Statutes of AIPS

The first statutes were compiled at the foundation, in 1924. They underwent several ammendments, as in 1959 at the Vienna Congress (where the position of first vice-president was created), in 1994 in Machester where the new, modern statutes were adopted with updated regulations for continental sections and specialist commissions. Since then, the Executive Committee has been meeting once or twice between the congresses and the Bureau meeting several times a year. Other changes were effected in 1996 at the Kuala Lumpur Congress where the regulations for specialist commissions were completely renewed. The statutes was modified in 2002 at the Athens Congress. Last time the statutes was modfied was in 2006 during the Doha Congress.

Member Associations

Starting with eight founding members, the number of member associations gradually increased, mainly after the Second World War. In 1964 the Munich Congress recorded 31 member countries, while at the end of Felix Levitan’s presidency this number amounted to 67 countries. In 1991 in Nicosia we celebrated our 100th member association. The number suddenly increased to 120 members recorded in the documents of the Manchester Congress in 1994. The total number of AIPS member associations as registered in the Minutes of the Oviedo Congress in 1997 grew to 130. Togay Bayatli left AIPS in 2005 with 144 associations members of AIPS.*

Creation of Continental Sections

The Continental Sections of AIPS have their own history and leaderships. They were created/affiliated to the AIPS as follows:
the Asian Section: ASPU in 1978
the American Section: FEPEDA in 1968
the European Section: UEPS in 1977
the African Section: UJSA in 1970

Creation of Specialist Commissions

The Specialist Commissions of AIPS representing the main Olympic sports and the corresponding regulations were created in 1963 at the Lyon Congress.

Creation of the ’Best Athletes of the Year’ Trophy

The AIPS Congress in Madrid, in 1962 accepted the proposal of our member association in Greece to organise the ’Best Athletes of the Year’ voting annually and to honour the winners by trophies presented by the Greek Sports Journalists’ Association.

Creation of ’Best Press Facilities’ Award

This Award was created by our Hungarian member association in 1966 who offered to annually present an award for the Best Press Facilities of the year, as voted for by our member associations.

First Regulations concerning Press organisation

The first regulations concerning Press organisation were adopted at the AIPS congress in Knokke, Belgium, in 1957 which specify the press requirements at international events.

The Creation of the ’Sports Journalists’ Day’

July 2 was called by the AIPS the International Sports Journalists Day, in the memory of the foundation of the AIPS in 1924. The first central celebration was held during the Tour de France in 1995. All our AIPS member associations remember July 2 annually by different events organised in their own countries.

The Present

The present-day era of the AIPS has just started in May 2005 with the election of a new Executive Committee under the presidency of Gianni Merlo. Learning from the past but implementing the technical achievements of the present, laying the stress on creating a fairly professional association with an eye to the future, the new president’s strategy is centered around the following priorities:

Building up the modern image of the 81 years old AIPS through:

a living, interactive and professional web-site, daily updated with news and data.
the AIPS Magazine has been turned into a colouful Forum of sports media professionals. Not only is it aimed to reflect the existing situation at the national level of our 144 associations world-wide but it also invites its readers to discussion, formulating messages, opinions, requests which reach directly the highest decision makers in sport. The colourful, 46 pages publication is published in 10.000 copies and as a spokesman of AIPS it is sent to all AIPS Members, all international sports federations and their officials, national olympic committees and International Olympic Committee members. It is distributed to all big international sports events.
AIPS delegates active presence at the venue of major international sports events

Team work

Things are changing. Iin the past most of the AIPS work was done by either a general secretary or a president. Now the new Executive Committee is motivated to work as a team, each involved in a special activity field or carrying out projects together. The aim is to involve each member of the AIPS in our common work.

Improving the Services Provided by the AIPS

’Moral services’

One of the values of our Association lies in its human factor, which we inherited from our forerunners. We are here to keep this flame burning. This is what we learnt from Frank Taylor on our 75 years’ anniversary: ”The AIPS knows no frontiers. Their members are living proof that the services they perform for all sports in all countries are just as important in promoting GOODWILL among the nations as athletes do on the fields on sport”.

Professional services

Through the AIPS membership card

The AIPS membership card is a guarantee that the media representatives who ask for accreditation are professional sports journalists. According to our system whereas the local association checks the professional status of the AIPS card applicant in each and every case we can be sure all our members are professionals. This way the international sports federations can filter ‘tourists’ who sometimes receive the precious press accreditation in the detriment of really professional journalists left out because of fixed quotas.

Through information provided by the AIPS Magazine and AIPS web-site

The AIPS Magazine and web-site are useful tools in the hands of not only the sports journalists but also the international sports federations for several reasons: the media could be informed of the deadlines in due time, information on less known sports or events reaching directly the professionals can lead to a bigger media coverage.

Through direct mailing services to our members

Any relevant information can reach the professional sports media within seconds thanks to our computerised member database and the information services provided by our headquarters.

Through preliminary advice and evaluation reports presented by the AIPS delegates

Our AIPS delegates specialised in the respective sports are offering their preliminary help in planning and organising the media centres at major international events. The AIPS, in agreement with the respective international federation is sending its appointed delegate to the event venue months before the event starts to check and give advice to the organisers in matter of media centres and working facilities.

The delegate also presents an evaluation report after the event is held, which can be a precious guide to future organisers.

Through education and training work

Direct education through seminars

Holding training seminars for our colleagues, mostly in developing countries has been a tradition in the past, too, especially following the initiative of president Frank Taylor, our honorary member Jacques Marchand, and the annual seminar held in the ancient Olympia organised by the Olympic Academy, the Greek Olympic Committee and our Member Greek Association.

It is one of the most important tasks of the present times to build up a strong seminar programme for our colleagues who really need it.

Indirect education conveyed through the AIPS image

The international sports media - and AIPS as such - is just a part of the huge power of the global media.

If the sports media is ’the looking glass’, the AIPS dares to be ’the hand’ moving the looking glass. Having a word to say in matter of reporting the sporting events. Within the limits of our possibilities and using the best of our knowledge we can make this view fair, impartial and professional.

This was also the fist declaration of AIPS at their founding congress in 1924. ”While defending their interests, journalists consider it their duty to thoroughly cooperate in view of achieving the global aim of progress and education which would make it possible for the spirit of sports to effectively turn to life its high mission of brotherhood and peace among nations. Sports journalists’ main concern is to be examples of impartial judgement and loyal opinion’.

A true message of humanism.

* * *

* The Member Associations of AIPS are:


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