Olafur Rafnsson, president of FIBA Europe has passed away at the age of 50. He was found in his hotel room in Geneva, Switzerland. He was there to attend the official opening of FIBA’s new headquarters. Rafnsson, who hails from Iceland, was a former player and won the Icelandic Championship in 1988. He was elected as FIBA Europe President in 2010. Olafur was also President of Iceland’s National Olympic Association.
FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann made this statement regarding Rafnsson’s passing:
“It is with great sadness that we heard of Olaf’s passing. On behalf of FIBA and of the basketball community as a whole, we want to offer our condolences to his family and loved ones,” he said.
“He did a lot of good for sports – in particular for basketball – over the course of his life.”
“He will be sorely missed.”
This was the last year of Rafnsson’s mandate as FIBA Europe’s President. He was slated to be replaced by Dejan Bodiroga from Serbia. Bodiroga was a former player who won European and World Championships with his national team. He was the GM of Virtus Roma from Italy and later on the Vice President of the Serbian Basketball Federation.
While FIBA and the world of international basketball mourns his loss, his tenure as president of FIBA Europe was not without controversy. FIBA Europe was taken to arbitration by representatives from Russian and Lithuanian Basketball Federations. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled in favor of FIBA Europe in April this year. At the heart of the matter was a conflict between FIBA World and FIBA Europe regarding the number of years in the competition cycles. Alleged backdoor negotiations that went on without Rafnsson’s permission served to create complications and conflicting expectations from contacted parties. On a less public level, there was also some disappointment that FIBA Europe was being led by someone who came from a European country that did not have as rich and a deep-rooted history with the sport compared to other nations.
With all of these issues now in the past it is now time for parties to move on, look to the future, and remember Rafnsson for his appreciated contributions to the sport and the organization.