José Damiani was born and lives in Paris, France, but considers Corsica his home place.
Originally he worked in the energy industry, but later he started his own water treatment business before turning to public relations and company consultancy.
It was a sporting injury that brought Mr Damiani to bridge. Before hamstring weakness curtailed his activities, he was a considerable rally driver, a good tennis player and an accomplished skier. He first registered as a member of the French Bridge Federation (FFB) in 1970. Three years later he had attained the first division and was President of his local club. By the late eighties he was one of France’s leading players and had represented his country internationally several times.
However, it is bridge administration in which Mr Damiani has really excelled. He became President of his district in 1975 and President of FFB in 1978 – a post he held until the end of 1983. This was the most dynamic six years in FFB history. Membership rose from 20,000 to 44,000 and restructuring and policy making set the stage for further increase which led France in the forerun of Europe and the World.
Having entered the European Bridge League (EBL) Executive Committee in 1979, José Damiani became 1st Vice President in 1981, and was elected EBL President in 1987. He was re-elected in 1991 for a second 4-year term. Until his retirement in 1995, he succeeded in raising the membership considerably and safeguarded the League’s financial health with sponsorship support that created a handy reserve. While he was in office, development-sensitive areas, like bridge education, women and the youth, flourished as never before.
Mr Damiani entered the World Bridge Federation in 1983 and became 1st Vice President in 1986. He was elected President in 1994, and was re-elected in 1998, 2002 and 2006, thus becoming the longest serving President in the history of WBF. He pursued the same goals for bridge development, but he also devoted a lot of energy arguing the cause of bridge as a sport. During his term, the WBF was recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) first as a Recognized Sport Organization (1995), and then as an International Federation 1999) which is the last step before admittance in the Olympic Games. In addition, the WBF is now a member of ARISF (Association of the IOC-Recognized International Sports Federations) and GAISF (General Association of International Sports Federations) which was later renamed to SportAccord..
He retired from the post of WBF President in 2010. In recognition of his services, he was then elected WBF Chairman Emeritus for life.