Caio Ibelli says Kelly Slater shouldn't have received the 2019 WSL wildcard

December 19, 2018 | Surfing
Caio Ibelli: the 2016 Rookie of the Year is not happy with the WSL | Photo: WSL

Caio Ibelli is not happy with the World Surf League (WSL) wildcard policy.

The 25-year-old surfer has contested WSL's decision to hand out the season wildcards to Kelly Slater and John John Florence.

The Brazilian athlete broke his foot and missed out eight out of 11 Championship Tour (CT) events in 2018, and was expecting to receive an injury wildcard from WSL.

However, the pro surfing circuit had other plans and awarded Slater and Florence the special spots in the CT class of 2019.

"To be honest, I disagree with WSL's decision. Kelly used and abused. He went to Fiji to surf 20-foot waves during the Keramas event, finished third in the Surf Ranch and didn't go to France next week," said Ibelli.

"This is the second year he gets that same wildcard. Is it fair?"

World Titles Matter

The WSL replied, saying that they take the process very seriously with an independent medical review board that assesses the severity of the injury and the impact it had on the surfer's ability to compete.

"All three surfers were deemed to have severe injuries that prevented them from competing in multiple events," notes Kieren Perrow, the WSL commissioner.

"From there, we apply our technical criteria and career achievement factors - which include world titles, career results, prior year ranking, and ranking at the time of injury."

In other words, the length and severity of the injury seem to play a less important role in the attribution of wildcards than the prestige factor.

As a result, Caio Ibelli will be the first replacement for the 2019 CT, a position that doesn't guarantee a regular inclusion in the majority of the season's events.

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