The Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (Fesi) is moving into a higher gear following the unanimous election of Bruno Alves as president by a newly elected 15-member board of directors during the annual general assembly of the organization in Prague last month.

The fact that he was unanimously elected dispells a report in a German magazine that his election was engineered through a “coup” mounted by Mark Held, secretary general of the European Outdoor Group (EOG). Held took the place of Adalbert von der Osten, head of the German sporting goods industry federation (BSI), in Fesi's executive committee, where he was acting as treasurer.

Alves succeeds Frank Dassler, general counsel of Adidas, who remains on the board and is still widely expected to become the president of the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry early next year.

Based in Brussels, where Fesi has its office, Alves is currently senior director of government and public affairs at Nike Europe. The 40-year-old Portuguese lawyer, he joined Nike in 2006 after working for Portugal's public TV network and at Ernst & Young. Before moving to Brussels, he spent a couple of years at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg to draft a convention on transnational broadcasting.

The election took place after the adoption by Fesi's general assembly of a new strategic plan for the next three years which are covered by Alves' mandate. It will be steered by the members of Fesi's executive committee, complementing the actions of the present working committees on international trade policy, intellectual property protection, product safety and sustainability, which have laid down their priorities for future action.

The general assembly also established a new task force for the promotion of physical activity and grassroots sports in Europe. The task force is going to work with the European Union on the preparation of a new EU action plan in this sector for the 2014-17 period.

The EOG is give strong support to this action plan, feeling that it should take some inspiration from Britain on Foot, the new grassroots campaign promoted by the Outdoor Industries Association of the U.K., which could be replicated in other Euroean countries.

The task force for this project is made up of representatives of individual companies and national federations. Sports retailers may be asked to participate in its proceedings at some stage.

Each member of Fesi's executive committee will be in charge of the implementation of a different aspect of the new three-year strategic plan. Held will be in charge of developing internal and external communication. Von der Osten's responsibilities as Fesi's treasurer have been transferred to Luca Businaro, president of Italy's Assosport and chief executive of Novation, who will be in charge of finance.

Dassler will continue to sit on the executive committee and will take care of governance, ensuring that Fesi's legal structure keeps pace with the changes in the sporting goods industry. Another existing member, Michel Zany, who is president of the French sporting goods industry federation (Fifas) and CEO of Cornilleau, will handle operations, trying to implement more professional processes within Fesi. Johan Adamson of Puma will take care of memberships and services.

Meanwhile, Fesi is playing an important role right now in the areas of trade and customs regulations. It is participating actively in the negotiation of free trade agreements like the one that the EU has just signed with Canada, opening up a relatively protected market. The FTAs currently under negotiations are with the U.S., Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.

Furthermore, representatives of the sporting goods industry will participate in a three-day training session for customs officials all over the world this month, helping them to identify counterfeit products. The meeting is taking place at a secret location with the sponsorship of the World Customs Organization.