The recent decision of the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) passed in the case of Beny Cogan vs IFMA—International Federation of Muaythai Associations (assisted in these proceedings by Prof. Riccardo La Cognata of Rome) is a landmark decision for our sport of Muaythai.

It denotes and indicates the extent that IFMA would perpetuate to the fundamental policy for the protection of youth and juveniles in our sport.

Upon notice of any breaches involving such youths or juveniles, the perpetrator would be brought forth before the Ad-Hoc Disciplinary Committee (AHDC) who would oversee the legal process of a disciplinary proceeding.

The perpetrator would be given his or her full legal entitlement of a fair hearing either personally or through legal counsel.

The process is protective of the youth or juvenile in terms of approach, confidentiality and restrictive orders to prevent further breaches whilst proceedings are ongoing.

It is to be noted that the operational aspects of IFMA’s protective policies extend beyond the legal disciplinary process to make the perpetrator accountable, it also allows investigative and safe keeping approaches to ensure that youths and juveniles are taken into swift safe custody and shielded from oppression or negative coercion by perpetrators or their accomplices.

The AHDC in itself comprises of a legal chairman and several executive board members drawn from the Legal Commission, Athletes Commission, Gender Equality Commission and Ethics Commission.

It grants a full and fair hearing to all defendants and examines witnesses, all evidence and adopts an inquisitorial approach to the entire proceedings.

The AHDC is the hallmark panel that upholds the precepts of IFMA and it fiercely endorses a zero tolerance approach for the protection of youth and juveniles in our sport.

Chair of the IFMA Legal Commission, Mervyn Tan, stated, “The protection and ultimate preservation of the rights of the youth athletes is a fundamental principle which is judiciously guarded by IFMA.”

The task of such protection in our sport is not an enviable or uncomplicated one given the jurisdiction of the motherland of our sport and also the visibly apparent exploitation of many young children in the world of professional Muaythai in suburban or rural areas.

After the sad passing of the young athlete Anucha Tasako at a professional non IFMA sanctioned event in 2018, IFMA then further tightened its child safeguarding policies and has unified with the World Muaythai Council (WMC) in 2019 to ensure a proper and safe development of the youth athletes with protection as one of its primary considerations.

Nevertheless, this does not daunt the executives of IFMA and they are one in unity in the belief that the precious youth are the future of our sport and that no effort or expense would be spared in their protection and preservation.

They are undeterred by circumstances or pressure brought to bear and truly remain determined in this cause to ensure such protection is accorded and also to assist all local authorities and organizations to achieve such similar objectives.

IFMA additionally works closely with Mission89 and GoodCorporation to continue the improvement of IFMA’s framework and policies for safeguarding children, and working in line with other organisations from UNICEF, FIFA to UNESCO, to ensure equal protection over all stakeholders with no discrimination or separation in terms of race, sexual orientation, ability, religion or others.

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