World Aquatics Looks to Relocate Headquarters from Switzerland to Hungary

First World Aquatics ditched its old name (FINA) in December. Now, six months later, the global governing body is looking to find a new home.

World Aquatics president Husain Al-Musallam met with Hungarian government officials in Budapest on Friday and signed “a memorandum of understanding… committing to further cooperation around the potential relocation to Budapest.” Hungarian media reported that the agreement is pending a final approval by the World Aquatics’ congress.

World Aquatics has been based out of Lausanne, Switzerland, since 1986. It unveiled a new headquarters in 2018 to commemorate its 110th anniversary, adding offices to a 19th-century villa next to the Swiss supreme court. The organization was founded in London in 1908 and spent the first 78 years of its existence there. The International Olympic Committee has also been headquartered in Lausanne since 1915.

Hungary has a long history with aquatics as one of the eight founding members of the International Swimming Federation in 1908. Budapest has maintained its international presence more recently as the host of the 2017 and 2022 World Aquatics Championships. The city will once again host World Championships in 2027 as well as Short Course Worlds in 2024. Between the Duna Arena and Alfred Hajos National Swimming Stadium, Budapest has plenty of existing aquatics infrastructure. The nation also boasts big-name swimmers such as world record holder Kristof Milak.

“Hungary has repeatedly proven itself to be a wonderful host for our sport and for our athletes. World Aquatics remains sincerely grateful for this,” Al-Musallam said. “I am excited to work with our friends in Budapest to see what further possibilities there may be here for World Aquatics.”

Hungarian media noted that World Aquatics leaders want at least half of the staff at the new headquarters to be Hungarian.

“It will of course be a huge recognition for Hungary if the global headquarters of the international swimming federation moves here to Budapest,” Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said.

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8 hours ago

Corrupt state? ✔️
Cozying up to authoritarian leaders? ✔️
Can maintain close ties to Russia without scrutiny from government officials? ✔️
While still maintaining all of the benefits of being in “the west”? ✔️

Pretty easy to see through this. While there’s a genuine strong relationship between FINA and the Hungarian government that has been built in recent years in large part for the right reasons, the simple fact of the matter is Switzerland hasn’t exactly been Switzerland in regards to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and FINA had very close ties to Russia that they’ve been so so eager to give up. I wonder what made Hungary the attractive destination?

Reply to  IM FAN
7 hours ago

As a Hungarian, I can tell you that Hungary’s “close ties to Russia” only exist on the surface in certain parts of government funded media in the form of propaganda that only serves domestic politics. The Hungarian government and its representatives in the European Parliament have voted in favour of every economic sanction against Russia during the war so far. I can’t argue with your first two points though lol.

Reply to  snailSpace
2 hours ago

I was trying to communicate strong speculation that Hungarian officials wouldn’t be scrutinizing FINAs behavior so closely. As for Hungary itself, I am well aware the Orban regime is actually quite reliant on the EU in reality in spite of their facade. My apologies though I don’t want to be spreading misinformation

Reply to  IM FAN
6 hours ago

Cheaper business overheads in HUN vs SWI with Orban’s regime “rolling out the red carpet” (be they inducements or removing any legal/regulatory issues).

17 hours ago

World Aquatics (FINA) has never been fully transparent about its finances and Swiss law helped in that. Now it is about to move to semi democratic Hungary. Most of the funds flowing into its coffers come from companies based in Western countries and most of the leading swimmers come from the same countries. There’s a saying: “He who pays the piper calls the tune”. That certainly doesn’t apply to World Aquatics with non-entities like Hussain Al-Musallum and other officials from peripheral nations running the show.

19 hours ago

Just make sure Tamas Gyarfas isn’t given a keycard to the building.

20 hours ago

I live very close to the Hungatian border… and Orbán is a nightmare. Horrible news about Hungary and his disgusting politics are a daily thing (not just what occasionally reaches the U.S. – he’s truly awful!)
Why not move to North Korea, while you’re at it? I thought they wanted to clean up their image with the new name… one step forward, two (thousand) steps back.

22 hours ago

how does this affect Sun Yang’s legacy?

22 hours ago

Magyarország remek új otthona lesz a FINA-nak! Mindez a vesztegetésről és megvesztegetésről szóló szörnyű fecsegés egyszerűen rágalom!

Hungary will be a superb new home for FINA! All of this dreadful chatter about bribes and bribery is simply slander! 

22 hours ago

Yeah I don’t get all the hate. As if any country that has any connection to Russia or China is automatically corrupt while any other country is perfect. It’s not like all the western countries (my country included) don’t have major issues.

23 hours ago

Why don’t these people have the courage of their convictions and just plant their flag in downtown Moscow next to their best buddy Vlady P?? Worlds worst secret that half of FINA (or whatever new re-brand they are trying) upper crust are Putin cheer leaders.
Read the article in Outside Magazine about the head of the ISL and FINA’s ties to Putin. It’s a fascinating read about the inner workings of this murky world with $$ ties to that little Soviet warlord who’s currently bombing childrens hospitals in Ukraine. Disgusting. Shame on FINA (or whatever they are called now).

Reply to  justanopinion
21 hours ago

If FINA is just a Russian puppet then why has it banned Russians from competing while the majority of other sports haven’t?

global swimmer
23 hours ago
Reply to  global swimmer
21 hours ago

As a gay man, I take your point. But where do we draw the line? Those articles don’t reference laws any worse than some US states have.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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