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Something odd is going on inside Swim England’s Water Polo Development Team, time for answers! -

In the light of the current disquiet about the way in which Swim England is failing to manage water polo in England, it has been brought to our attention by members of the water polo community that one of Swim England’s water polo development staff appears to have another role as the Managing Director of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF).

When Swim England welcomed Mr Andy Fuller to the organisation as Water Polo Development Manager in August 2018, ( it was stated that he had joined Swim England from his role as Managing Director of IFAF, and it was reasonably assumed that the appointment to replace the previous full time incumbent Suzy Stevenson would again be a full-time position with Swim England.

However a little digging reveals that the IFAF site’s contact page, as of 26 Sept 2019, records a Mr Andy Fuller in post as Managing Director of the International Federation of American Football within the IFAF staff section of the page. You might say that this simply reflects a website which is out-of-date, until you view the video below of the IFAF Conference for the presentation of the American Football European U19 Championships which streamed live on 21st May 2019. At 23 minutes into the clip, a certain Mr Andy Fuller welcomes us to the launch of the IFAF U19 event, clearly discharging his leadership role within the organisation in May of this year.

And there’s more, in Feb 2019 Mr Andy Fuller was commenting publicly as the MD of IFAF to the press in connection with the inaugural IFAF World U20 Championships, in May he was representing IFAF at a FIDAF event, and most recently in connection with an international American Football event held Aug 29- Sept 1st 2019 in Israel, Mr Andy Fuller  was described as the ‘Managing Director IFAF’ and as a ‘Key Contact’ for the event. A scan of the key documents on the IFAF website all reveal Mr Andy Fuller at the heart of the action.

So, if we assume as a working proposition that the Mr Andy Fuller who is the MD of IFAF, is the same Mr Andy Fuller who is also Swim England’s Water Polo Development Manager, why does it matter? Arguably for a few good reasons!

Given that a simple Google search has revealed all this information, it seems almost inconceivable that Swim England could have been unaware that Mr Andy Fuller was, and is, Managing Director of the International Federation of American Football. (Although to be fair to Swim England, if this is the first that Swim England has heard of the matter then the only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn is that the Swim England Human Resources Dept is incompetent, and there has been a complete failure in matters of due diligence…so not exactly off the hook then.)

If however Swim England knew of, and authorised, Mr Fuller’s simultaneous employment as England Water Polo Development Manager and engagement as Managing Director of the International Federation of American Football whether expressly or otherwise, it may therefore be inferred that at some stage Swim England clearly decided that the post of England Water Polo Development Manager was so spectacularly unimportant that it could easily be discharged by someone who also had another time-consuming role; one which involved leading a international major sporting organisation.

It also matters because Swim England failed to advise anyone in the England water polo community, including the Water Polo Management Group, that their Water Polo Development Manager was also being allowed to act as MD of IFAF, whether because Swim England considered that the community would respond badly to publicity about the arrangement, or alternatively because Swim England simply does not care 2 hoots for the opinion of the community.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, there is the matter of a potential conflict of interest, and in particular the risk of a potential financial conflict of interest. In the last funding cycle it was Swim England who drafted the failed application for Sport England funding for water polo, and the then-Water Polo Development Manager was central to that drafting. It is reasonable to assume that Mr Andy Fuller as the incumbent Water Polo Development Manager would again be central to future applications for sport funding on behalf of England Water Polo, whether from Sport England or other funding bodies, and yet presumably his other organisation, IFAF, or the relevant IFAF-English affiliated organisation would also be applying for funds from potentially the same funding bodies, but for the sport of American Football.

In other words, American Football which Mr Fuller leads would potentially be in competition with Water Polo for monies from the same pot. Without transparency about the roles which Mr Fuller holds, how can the water polo community or the relevant grant-making bodies which include Sport England and potentially UK Sport be confident that no conflict exists?

Unfortunately as with many aspects of the Swim England organisation we are left with more questions than answers, and now look to the organisation for their response.

10 responses to “Something odd is going on inside Swim England’s Water Polo Development Team, time for answers!”

  1. Jon Hutchings says:


  2. Nei says:

    Swim England British Swimming are exactly that not England Water Polo
    Looking forward to their reply

  3. Fred Willey says:

    Sounds like an untenable situation ,very demeaning for waterpolo.

  4. Swim England says:

    A Swim England spokesperson said: “Andy Fuller was recruited into his role as Water Polo Development Manager with our full knowledge he would be volunteering for the International Federation of American Football.

    “Like many of our employees, Andy uses his spare time to be a dedicated and committed volunteer for an external non-profit organisation. Swim England is a registered charity that relies on thousands of volunteers to help us run all of our sports effectively and we actively encourage our employees to volunteer wherever possible.

    “We are disappointed England Water Polo has decided to question the integrity and professionalism of our workforce, especially when they willingly give up their spare time in a voluntary role.

    “We have every confidence in our employees to carry out their duties for Swim England to the highest standards and they all have our full trust and support.”

  5. An interested party says:

    What a load of utter codswollop. Waterpolo is the poor relation to swimming in the UK – in fact more like the ugly cousin that no one invites to parties.

    This whole situation is very believable, and clearly demostrates why waterpolo in itself is currently directionless, ambitionless and exists wiith more than a hint of nepotism.

    Sport for all. 2012 legacy. Pah.

    Jobs for the boys (and girls) more like !

  6. Paul Whittaker says:

    Swim England must have a very good holiday policy to allow the “Swim England’s Water Polo Development Manager” time off to attend all the overseas IAFA “freebies”.
    When I read the article I was not sure if he was employed by Swim England or still had his previous job?????
    What kind of job can he be doing for English Water Polo development when he volunteers?? for a American game not known to many in the country he is employed.

  7. Neal Greenslade says:

    I have written previously that SwimEngland needs to deploy better communications and therefore avoid any ‘bear traps’ as goodwill depends on Governance, Communication and Transparency.

    Recent ‘traffic’ on the England Water Polo website would seem to be a case in point.

    I for one, am grateful for the clarification offered as to the appointment of the Water polo Development Manager, however at least for me; the explanation after some research just appears to have muddied the water.

    Since SwimEngland did not respond to my tweet regarding the appointment of Andy Fuller I took it upon myself to investigate his appointment which was announced here:

    It appears that Andy … joins us from his most recent role as Managing Director of the International Federation for American Football and Andy… will work closely with the Water Polo Management Group.

    This raises a couple of queries in my mind:
    The statement did not say that he would retain his role with IFAF but rather he was joining SwimEngland:

    • Why were the Water Polo community not informed of the joint role?

    • Was, and is; there potentially a conflict of interest?

    Now, initially; to me none of this mattered as SwimEngland says that he volunteers for the IFAF and this I fully accept and I assumed that IFAF was a small concern that would need little involvement from a Manging Director.

    So, as I did not know who or what IFAF is I looked it up!

    IFAF is the equivalent to FINA for American Football with 105 Member Nations, it is based in France and runs the following tournaments

    World Flag Championship (w)
    World Flag Championship (m)
    World U19 Championship (m)
    World Championship (w)
    World Championship (m)
    European Club Championship
    World University Championship
    European Championship (m)
    European Championship (w)
    European U19 Championship (m)

    And comprises the following committees:

    Statutes and Regulations Committee
    Competition Committee
    Officiating Committee
    Medical and Anti-Doping Committee
    Game Development Committee
    Marketing and Commercial Committee
    Rules Committee
    Athletes Commission
    Welfare Committee
    Disciplinary and Ethics Committee
    Membership Committee
    Events Committee
    Appeals Committee

    I may well be wrong but IFAF would appear bigger than Water Polo and Andy is the Managing Director or CEO according to their statutes, this does not appear to be a minor organisation or a minor role, especially as Andy’s email address appears on virtually every communication or brochure.

    He also appears as the only member of ‘Staff’ IFAF’s description not mine!

    My contention is not whether Andy is paid or not by IFAF, but merely that SwimEngland gave the impression that he was leaving his role with IFAF and, that at least to my mind, there must be a conflict of interest (especially as IFAF is recognised according to IFAF by the IOC) should any funding be sought.

    On that point I was slight amused by the following regarding sponsorship especially relating to the 2019 IFAF Congress, not cheap!

    Therefore, once more and I would reiterate to SwimEngland on grounds of Governance, Communications and Transparency please:

    • Why was the impression given that Andy was leaving his post as MD of IFAF?

    • Were the WPMG, whom he was closely working with, made aware of his involvement in a International Sport potentially competing for funding and Sponsorship?

    • Did Andy or SwimEngland make individuals and committees aware of any and all potential conflicts of interest on any and all occasions?

    • How do SwimEngland feel people may feel at the appointment of the MD of a potentially competing sport?

    • Can SwimEngland truly not see the potentially of a conflict of interests, perceived or otherwise?

    I have noted in the last few days in comments that eliciting any response from Andy would appear quite difficult and I hope these two maters are not related.

    This also concerns me, as I have been in correspondence with Andy for a considerable amount of time with regard to a number of items, along with others; that include Safeguarding, Questionnaires to comply with Swim England’s Strategy and conformation that all players within ‘Water Polo’ are covered by relevant insurance (due to potential noncompliance with ITC regulations).

    Not trivial matters yet despite a number of requests I have yet to receive a reply perhaps SwimEngland could update us here?

  8. Paul Whittaker says:

    Please reply Swim England I think Neal
    deserves a response.

  9. Clive Saunders says:

    Totally agree – Swim England need to respond in detail to the conflict of interest question, answering specifically the point that if an investor approaches looking to back a sport in the UK, would Andy Fuller be wearing his Managjng Director of International Federation of American Football hat, or his Swim England Water Polo Development Manager hat?

  10. Peter Sherman says:

    What is his Water Polo history?

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