Proposals for a fairly, better bidding process

Datum: Sep 9th, 2013
Category: international, Turniere

EUDC ManchesterOn August 23 EUDC Council assembled in Manchester. Amongst other things the decisions on who will host Euros in 2014 and 2015 were made, with bids by Durham and Zagreb for EUDC 2014 and a bid by Vienna for EUDC 2015. Zagreb took the win over Durham and will host Euros next year. Vienna’s bid was confirmed, which makes them the hosts for Euros the year after next. Teresa Widlok was present in Council in her capacity as International Officer of the Association of German Speaking University Debating Societies and German delegate to Council. The following article describes her impressions about the bidding process and what should be learned from it for the years to come.

Someone had to win. And we saw a fair winner, no extensive celebrations in front of everyone, especially the defeated, just thank yous for the trust and the promise to bring on a good EUDC in Zagreb next year. Admittedly, the situation was new for most of the delegates in Council this year. As far as I can remember, we did not see two competing bids for Euros in quite some time. At least concerning the very close outcome it was a novelty, even for those who can remember two competing bids.

The bidding process before Manchester…

For all of you who did not follow the bidding process for its entirety, here’s a brief summary of the events: Durham brought on their bid for Euros a couple of weeks before Worlds last winter. Everyone was excited because the bid was announced so early – in comparison to the bids in the past. The Durham Organisation Committee took the chance and announced their bid, including a bid video and an impressive amount of organization which had already been done, at Worlds in Berlin. Up to this point the decision in Council seemed to be anticipated by the very well presented and organized bid by the Durham people. A couple of weeks before Euros in Manchester the two CAs of the bid, Danique van Koppenhagen and Fred Cowell, even kicked off the application process for their DCAs. The latest news about sponsorship agreements and visa procedures were posted on the Durham EUDC Facebook page and everyone was packed and ready to leave for Manchester when on Thursday night before the start of Euros Zagreb’s bid to host Euros was announced. There had been talks that there maybe would be a counter bid for some time before, but as nothing happened and no one moved the sudden announcement seemed to come out of nowhere. And what a bid it was. It was of course not as stable and organized as the bid from Durham, but the vision and main programmatic points were in place. Most importantly, a majority of the very successful convening team of Belgrade Euros turned out to be part of the Organisation Committee. Of course, at this point in time not much could be done, so both bids left with their polished bid booklets and awaited what was to come in Manchester.

… as it was continued in Manchester


The team of Zagreb EUDC 2014 presents their bid in Manchester  (c) Annette Kirste

From the very first hour of the tournament on the most frequently talked about topic was the competition between the two bids from Durham and Zagreb. Wasn’t it unfair to start such an ambush campaign at the last hour? But on the other hand, had Durham been too sure about themselves too early? The first couple of days were wasted on talks about the situation of having two bids and that both of them were essentially strong in their own way. Zagreb argued, much like Belgrade two years before, with the huge effect hosting Euros would have for the whole region and how much more accessible Zagreb would be for the Eastern European countries who could simply not afford to travel to the UK again. Durham argued that their organization would be impeccable and that Durham was just the perfect location to hold Euros, side by side with original Harry Potter filming sites.

There was one thing though which no one understood. Somehow none of the conveners for Zagreb had come to Manchester to propose their bid. Maybe this was also one of the reasons why Durham did not understand to take the Zagreb bid more seriously from an earlier point in time on. But it became clear that the organization team from Belgrade would be there to answer any questions and go to all the delegation meetings. Admittedly, the lobbying and fishing for votes was not as visible for the Zagreb bid as it was for the Durham bid, but they managed. At the first day of Euros Fred also released a post on Durham’s blog spot explaining how the Durham bid would help developing debate nations. Finally a move from one side to try and engage with the other bid.

The bidder decision

Decision day came and the bids were presented for a last time at the Council meeting. In the Question & Answers session afterwards the desperation could be felt on both sides. Cheap shots were taken at the Durham budget on the one hand and the lack of policies for Zagreb on the other hand. All of which didn’t serve any other purpose than demeaning the other side because at this point in time the national decisions were already made. It’s natural that a new bid cannot give answers as detailed as the ones by someone who’s been in the process of preparation for quite some time. But enough of that, it was time to vote. With 12 votes for Zagreb, 11 votes for Durham and 1 abstention Council decided that Zagreb would hold next year’s Euros.

Boom! Most of the people I talked to afterwards were genuinely shocked about the outcome. Firstly, because it was so very close. Secondly, because most of them had expected Durham to win and felt sorry for all the work which was suddenly only a fading memory from the past.

Regulating the bidding process

The dust had not yet settled, hardly anyone had set off for their journeys back home when the first reactions appeared on blog posts and in Facebook sati. One of the catchphrases was something in the line of “we never want to see such a campaign again”. Proposals were made of how the bidding process should be changed for the better:

  1. Bidding deadline: There should be a deadline for bid announcements, so none of the competitors will be caught off guard by bids entering the race at the very last minute.
  2. Questions deadline: There should also be a deadline for filing basic questions about the bids before the Council meeting (of course spontaneous questions should still be allowed) in order to give every bid a fair chance of preparing an answer. Some of the questions may rise issues which had not yet been thought about and therefore deserve some time to get a well thought through answer.
  3. Tie regulation: One question which was asked a lot with regard to the very close result: what happens in the event of a tie between two bids? Who decides which side should host Euros then? As far as I see the Constitution is not clear about this and should be amended in a way to take into account such a scenario.

While these are all legitimate proposals which will have to be dealt with at the next Council meeting, I hope that it will be the rule rather than the exception in the following years that we will have to decide between two bids. Why? Because the process really brought out the best ideas for inclusiveness and programs on both sides- especially from an ESL nation’s point of view. For example, the Durham bid at the very end announced their idea to launch a program to support overall inclusiveness, much like the scholarship program at Berlin Worlds. While the location factor always makes Euros more accessible for participants from the nations in the vicinity of the hosting society, such a program would aim to support everyone, regardless of where they are coming from. In addition, why is it better to decide over bids two years in advance? At this point in time you will of course not be able to provide a perfect concept for your tournament. But on the other hand losing out on the other bid will not hurt as much as it probably did for Durham who in the end had planned large amounts of the tournament to no avail.

In conclusion I think we can essentially take two things out of this year’s bidding process for Euros in 2014 and 2015

  1. The rules for the bidding process should be reconsidered and revised.
  2. I think it was good to have two competing bids and it was also good to have Vienna’s bid for EUDC 2015 two years in advance. We should hope that both of these precedents will be considered as such and will be recurring in the years to come.

Teresa Widlok/ ak

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5 Kommentare zu “Proposals for a fairly, better bidding process”

  1. Alex L. (DD) says:

    Just out of curiosity – which one was the bid Germany voted for?

  2. Manuel A. (HB) says:

    “Die Deutsche Debattiermeisterschaft (DDM) wird von 3. bis 6. Juni 2010 wie bereits vier Jahre zuvor in Münster ausgetragen. Der Debattierclub Münster hatte sich im zweiten Wahlgang nach einem Unentschieden mit nur einer Stimme Vorsprung gegen den Mitbewerber, den jungen Frankfurter Debattierclub Goethes Faust, durchgesetzt.”

  3. Christian Zimpelmann says:

    Alex, die deutsch Stimme ging an Zagreb. Die interne Abstimmung war aber auch sehr knapp.

  4. Henrik says:

    Mag jemand mal die Überschrift korrigieren und dann diesen Kommentar hier löschen – zwischen “fairer, better” und “fairly better” gibt’s dann ja doch einen Unterschied 😉

  5. Teresa W. says:

    Das hast du sehr richtig bemerkt, Henrik. Mit diesem Kommentar hast du dich wohl gerade als Editor bei der Redaktion beworben 😉

    Scherz beiseite. Es soll eine Mischung zwischen “fairly better” und “fairer, better” sein. So, your English hasn’t failed you. But Mine hasn’t failed me either 😉

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