Dear FESI Members,
Dear Friends of the Sporting Goods Industry,
It is with deep sadness that the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI) and the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) write to inform you of the passing of their mutual past President, Frank A. Dassler, on 20 June 2020 in Hamburg. Frank, born on 14 June 1956 in Nurnberg into the founding family of adidas and PUMA, was a highly respected and driven leader of the Sporting Goods Industry with a long history of dedicating his time to the development of the Industry Federations. Frank was the grandson of Rudolf Dassler, PUMA’s founder, and was the President of PUMA’s US subsidiary between 1985 and 1987. Frank started his own law firm in 1989, Antwaltskanzlei Dassler, which still exists today and went on to hold the role of adidas Group General Counsel for 14 years from 2004 until 2018.
On his passing, Frank had been a WFSGI Board member for 13 years and had consistently shown seemingly limitless energy to engage in discussions and initiatives that pushed the industry to keep ahead of the game. Frank was the WFSGI President from 2014-2017 and was proud to have followed in the footsteps of his father, Armin Dassler, who was a founding member of WFSGI and its President from 1986-1989. Frank also had the unique honour of being the final WFSGI President to come from a sporting goods company: during Frank’s tenure and upon proposal of the Board, the title of President was transferred to the head of the Secretariat and, from then on, the lead representative of the sporting goods companies on the Board would be known as the Chair.
As WFSGI President, Frank oversaw a period of sustainable growth of the WFSGI with membership rising to 163 direct members. Frank’s Presidency also saw WFSGI and the Industry move closer to the Olympic Movement as in 2016 WFSGI entered into a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and became the IOC’s sole Recognised Organisation for the Industry. Frank was a firm believer in the Industry’s opportunity to become a leader in sustainability and corporate responsibility and ensured that the principles of ethics and fair play were reflected in the MOC. Frank also helped the industry to fulfil its promise of ‘leaving no athlete behind’ when he supported the creation of the first WFSGI IOC NOC Uniform Support Programme at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The initial Programme saw nine leading sports brands support over 600 athletes from 54 NOCs with free, market leading and Rule 50 compliant competition clothing. This solidarity initiative continues today and the next edition, scheduled to be held during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (in 2021), will see the industry support athletes from 77 NOCs. The NOC Uniform Support Programme is but a small part of Frank’s legacy at the WFSGI and in the wider sporting world. Above all, Frank was a man who loved the Industry and believed wholeheartedly in its ability to change lives for the better. He closed his parting Presidential speech in 2017 with the following words ‘If we as an Industry realize that we can use the Power of Sports to change people’s lives to the better, and if we as an Industry can apply Common Sense and Fair-Play principles to contribute to the needed change in mindset, then I am confident that we can do our part to secure prosperity and health for the generations to come.’. These words are as true today as they were then and, perhaps, even more so in light of the threat of COVID-19 to the health of our communities and our businesses.
From 2010 – 2013 Frank served as President of FESI and as a sign of his well-recognized leadership he was unanimously re-elected in November 2017. Under his dedicated guidance FESI has grown into an efficient and professional association. In addition to his iconic status in the history of the sporting goods industry Frank was instrumental in rebuilding, modernizing and leading FESI to some of its biggest successes. Frank oversaw and advocated for many policy improvements in the interest of the entire industry. His conviction was to strive for a proactive representation of small and big sport brands in Brussels. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the European Commission’s European Week of Sport which he heavily promoted according to his strong belief in the benefits that sport brings in all parts in life. One of the biggest achievements under his presidency was the ratification of the EU Free Trade Agreement with Vietnam, which will now bring much needed relief to the industry in the wake of the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis, but he also ensured that key sustainability principles are enshrined in this milestone agreement. Finally he was also instrumental in leading the policy discussion on the digital transformation of our industry and held high level policy discussions on how Europe can become competitive in that field and help the sporting goods industry strive. But it is his personality that will be missed the most. His professionalism, leadership, conviviality, and wittiness brought him the highest respect of his peers in the sector and beyond. As a true mentor he skillfully convinced his colleagues to follow his decisions in an efficient yet engaging way.
Frank is survived by his wife, Sabine, and son Christopher and our thoughts are with them in this time of grief. We hope that the messages of love, condolence and respect that are being issued across the Industry in Frank’s honor demonstrate what he meant to so many, and go some small way to appeasing their pain.
Rest in peace Frank, our final President Emeritus.
Neil Narriman, President
Jerome Pero, Secretary General
On behalf of the FESI Team
Motoi Oyama, Co-Chair
James Zheng, Co-Chair
Robbert de Kock, President & CEO
On behalf of the WFSGI Team