22 April 2022



Interim EJU President Otto KNEITINGER was supposed to become the successor of Sergey SOLOVEYCHIK until the end of 2024, but the 67 year-old German had other plans.

Otto, you will have been leading the EJU for only five months. At the Extraordinary Congress in Vienna on 17th of June you will not run for EJU Presidency. Instead you will become Vice President again, responsible for Marketing and Media Matters. Why do you want to step aside?

Otto Kneitinger: “There are three main reasons for my decision: In the first instance, when I became a Vice President in 2020 I was supposed to assist and help EJU President Sergey Soloveychik in marketing matters only. I ended up being a full-time consultant, executing marketing deals worth 4 million euros (until the end of 2024). This was quite far from what my family and myself wanted. Secondly, at the end of February it got even more intense, because of Sergey’s resignation due to the Russian invasion, all of a sudden, I found myself being EJU President and IJF Vice President. During the first few hours I received more than 300 emails with hundreds of questions and queries. This was the moment, when I realised, I need a plan B. The third reason to step aside is a quite simple one, an EJU President needs staff, but I am supposed to retire in two years time. To hire people for a couple of years only would be absolutely unfair. It makes much more sense to expand the EJU Headquarters in Vienna, no matter, of which country the current man in charge comes from. After a couple of nights as interim EJU President I called László TÓTH and asked him if he could think of running for presidency.”

Why is László Tóth the ideal fit for being the number one in European Judo?

Kneitinger: “We needed a quick solution, someone who can take over immediately. László Toth has been President of the Hungarian Judo Association and Member of the EJU Executive Committee for more than 20 years. He has organised numerous prime judo events, both for IJF and EJU. Moreover, he is based in Hungary and very close to IJF President Marius VIZER. As we want to align our concepts anyway to the ones from IJF, László Toth fits perfectly for the job. He enjoys an excellent reputation among the member federations.”

How would you sum up your main tasks and achievements as interim EJU President?

Kneitinger: “Our sport had a real tough time because of the pandemic and the Russian invasion. After Sergey’s resignation the European Judo Union had no leadership. We needed a straight-forward, trustworthy person. One that does not overreact. I am trying my best to fulfill this role until the Extraordinary Congress in Vienna when László takes over. I am glad we have just one presidential candidate. László has a broad support within the EJU community. There are no doubts about his qualities.”

And what about your new role?

Kneitinger: “When László and myself talked the first time about future business, he said, ‘I will need you running the marketing and media affairs.’ My answer was, ‘this is what I came in for in 2020. This is fine for my family and myself.’”

Author: EJU Media