Barelli to CANA: “who is promising indiscriminate cash for votes?”

Last week the African Swimming Association (CANA) and the Asian Swimming Association (AASF) published letters critical of Paolo Barelli, President of LEN and the Italian Swimming Federation and challenger to Julio Maglione for the FINA Presidency.

The AASF letter mostly spoke in favor of its delegate, FINA First Vice President Husain Al-Musallam, who was also criticized by the Kuwait Swimming Association (KSA) in a petition to FINA to remove Al-Musallam from the FINA Bureau. Al-Musallam, who is presumably under investigation by the United States Department of Justice for bribery within FIFA, is from Kuwait, a country that is currently suspended by both the IOC and FINA.

The letter from CANA, on the other hand, was highly critical of Barelli, contrasting the former Italian senator to a purportedly compassionate and effective Maglione.

Today Barelli responded to various claims made in the CANA letter regarding his character and past actions. CANA, which claimed that Maglione had set aside substantial funds for national aquatics federations in developing countries, attempted to refute claims Barelli made about FINA not giving enough of its earnings back to national federations. Barelli, in turn, questioned the nature of the funding, asking “who is it that is promising indiscriminate cash for votes?”

Barelli continued, asking “Is it an escape route, a clumsy attempt to distract the attention form the fact that he has done very little or nothing at all in favour of the CANA Federations, which have never benefitted from any adequate Development program or solid guarantees that their needs would be considered and addressed?”

CANA also claimed that Barelli blew off attending a conference held in Bloemfontain, South Africa, last year. Barelli claimed to have never received the invitation.

The entire statement from Barelli is below. (Emphases by Barelli.)

Reply to CANA, Confederation Africaine de Natatione

Dear CANA National Federations, dear friends,

I have no doubt whatsoever that the many friends I have in FINA and amongst the CANA (Confederation Africaine de Natation) National Federations will know how to judge the greatly inappropriate and indeed false statements made in the letter which the CANA leadership has spread for electoral purposes only.

Still, please allow me to highlight a couple of points.

First, in the letter form CANA it is stated that I did not respond to the invitation to attend the 2016 CANA Congress in Bloemfontein. Unfortunately, it appears that the invitation mentioned in the letter to the CANA Members never reached me. It would have been indeed a great privilege for me to join the CANA Congress and, had it not been possible for me to attend, I would have replied with my regrets as courtesy requires.

Personally, I find it a somewhat strange that this has been brought up only now. Mr Ramsamy has all my personal contacts and, had he really wanted to, he could have easily followed up directly with me to check if I had received the invite.

Second, I further noted in the CANA letter it is reported that President Maglione has apparently promised an annual contribution of $15,000 to each CANA Member which was intended to allow federations to attend their Annual Congress or for participation at the African Championships.

I am pleased to see that the points I included in my Manifesto with regards to the financial support to National Federations are already starting to enjoy success and led to FINA stating that they will start investing money rather than keeping it within its’ coffers.

But why is it that the CANA leadership has made this statement only now? One cannot continue to fool around with the aquatics family in this way, but we have elections soon… Some people may be led to believe that this sudden decision and the subsequent statement have a proper motive…cash for votes!

It was sufficient for anybody to go through the Financial Statements of FINA to realise that very substantial funds could have been made available to National Federations for Development programmes for a number of years.

Over the 4-year period 2009-2012 FINA had already set aside approx. $ 40,000,000 in reserves! These have risen further and at the end of the 4-year period 2013-2016 have reached over $ 90 million, according to the figures provided by FINA.

In my Manifesto I have already made it amply clear that FINA is not a financial institution who has the sole objective of increasing its reserves. FINA must now, and should have done so much earlier, invest these significant resources wisely. These funds are ultimately the result of the great work carried out by the National Federations, and they must now be re-invested in Development programmes, in both regional and international activities with the interest of the athletes foremost.

Almost nothing has been done in this regard over the 4-year period 2013-2016. FINA has invested in Development programs only $3,500,000, just barely over $ 850,000 per year.

A careful analysis of the FINA financial statements clearly shows that FINA would have been for a number of years in a position to invest many more millions of dollars in Development programmes and support to the National Federations.

As I stated in my Manifesto, $5,000,000 per year can be invested for development and especially amongst emerging federations and a further $ 5,000,000 to sustain international activities and National Federations. And, all this can be done immediately!

These are not electoral promises, but very realistic and sustainable proposals based on the current FINA financial standing. I have not promised financial support to anybody specifically, nor to everybody indiscriminately. Only thanks to my persistence has all this come to the fore.

I see that in an awkward attempt to play catch up with the proposals I included in my Manifesto the letter sent few days ago by CANA leaders promises indiscriminately $ 15,000 to each Federation. I am truly pleased to see this sudden change of direction but then I wonder: who is it that is promising indiscriminate cash for votes?

It would be appropriate to ask Ramsamy, the CANA President, FINA Vice-Preident and IOC Member what the reasons behind his sudden change of behaviour, delayed announcement of economic contributions and his ridiculous accusations in my regard are truly based upon. Is it an escape route, a clumsy attempt to distract the attention form the fact that he has done very little or nothing at all in favour of the CANA Federations, which have never benefitted from any adequate Development program or solid guarantees that their needs would be considered and addressed? As already mentioned, all this would have been feasible since long time.

Again, it would have been a great privilege for me to attend the CANA Congress. Nonetheless, should an opportunity arise I will be delighted to share my views for the future of FINA with all the CANA National Federations as I would also wish to do with the National Federations of the other Continental bodies.

I still look forward to this possibility even in the days ahead of the elective Congress in Budapest.

For any additional information on my electoral programme, please also visit my website

Paolo Barelli

Ligue Européenne de Natation (LEN)
Italian Swimming Federation (FIN)
Candidate for the FINA Presidency


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4 years ago

What we call this is a “Shooting War”

4 years ago

Does this mean more or less hope for my lime green Vespa . I’m having trouble keeping tabs .

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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