On July 22nd the FINA Congress will gather in Budapest to determine whether incumbent Julio Maglione or challenger Paolo Barelli will lead FINA and the global aquatic community through the fresh quad and into 2021.
As the days before the Congress dwindle, more federations are stepping forward to endorse one or the other candidate. Today, however, the Asian Swimming Federation (AASF) and the African Swimming Federation (CANA) both published spirited letters in favor of Maglione.
Moreover, CANA seemingly accused Barelli of bribery, stating:
“Mr Paolo Barelli, the FINA Honorary Secretary, has been circulating several letters to FINA National Federations, seeking support for his candidature for the President of FINA. Apparently, he is now circulating messages promising financial contributions in his attempt to woe the Federations.”
The letter from CANA went on to claim that Barelli “did not even have the courtesy to respond” when invited to the CANA Congress held in Bloemfontein, South Africa, last year. Conversely, Maglione made the journey and won over the members of CANA who “decided unanimously to give full support for him to continue as FINA President until 2021.”
CANA’s letter also seemingly rebukes statements made by Barelli that developing swimming federations from around the world are given little attention by Maglione, asserting that Maglione “will also include expanding scholarship for swimmers from developing countries. He mentioned that he had also discussed this issue with the continental Presidents of Asia, America and Oceania which needed similar types of assistance.”
The letter from the AASF spent less time on Barelli but still spoke highly of Maglione. The main focus of the AASF letter instead focused on the legitimacy of FINA First Vice President Husain Al-Musallam, and was seemingly issued as a response to a letter published earlier this week by the Kuwait Swimming Association (KSA) which claimed Al-Musallam received preferential treatment by FINA and per the FINA Constitution should not be eligible to hold a seat on the FINA Bureau.
The AASF mainly attempted to take down the KSA by claiming that it is a “non-existing and unrecognized body… and is a product of the law conflicting with the FINA/AASF Constitution.” The AASF also claimed that the letter from the KSA was “totally motivated considering the forthcoming FINA elections in Budapest on 22nd July 2017.”
The AASF did not mention that Al-Musallam is presumably under investigation by the United States Department of Justice for a bribery scandal involving FIFA and other high-ranking members of the Olympic Council of Asia.
Other federations have also spoken out both in favor and against those currently presiding over the FINA Bureau. In a recent letter from Dale Neuburger, President of UANA, Neuburger on behalf of the organization, endorsed Maglione for a third-consecutive term at the helm of FINA. The Kuwait Swimming Association (KSA), meanwhile, recently voiced concerns regarding FINA First Vice President, Husain Al-Musallam, also from Kuwait. While the KSA did not specifically call out Maglione, it claimed FINA was currently in violation of a number of its own rules per the FINA Constitution, and declared that Al-Musallam received preferential treatment by FINA’s leadership.
The KSA also claimed that the Asian Swimming Federation (AASF) was in violation of FINA rules due to its continued support of Al-Musallam as FINA First Vice President. Kuwait, as a suspended member of the IOC and FINA, should not be allowed to have a delegate on the FINA Bureau, argues the KSA.
Paolo Barelli has said the same, and also that FINA’s “Constitution is very clear… [members] inside FINA don’t want to interpret the constitution correctly. This is not good governance.”
Barelli has been vocal in his criticisms of FINA, and until now international and continental federations had been relatively quiet about who they would support in the upcoming election.