FINA presidential race intensifies after harsh criticism of electoral regulation proposal

Photo: Marc/Flickr

Photo: Australia Marc/Flickr


By Stine Alvad
European swimming president’s battle to overtake the presidency of world swimming gains ammunition from the withdrawal of an election procedure proposal allegedly in breach of FINA constitution.

Italian Paolo Barelli, president of the Italian and the European swimming federation (LEN), is running for the post as president of the world governing body of swimming, FINA, against 81-year old Uruguayan Julio Maglione, who is running for his third term as FINA president.

In the past week, the presidential battle has intensified after incumbent Maglione first proposed, then withdrew a proposal to change electoral procedures, reports.

In a letter, obtained and reprinted by Swimvortex, sent after Maglione decided to postpone the vote on the proposal, Barelli calls Maglione’s proposed changes “unconstitutional” and “completely unwarranted and inappropriate”.

The proposed election regulations, which came shortly after Barelli had announced his candidature in a letter to all FINA members, suggested the establishment of an electoral commission comprised of one elected representative from each of the five continental organisations.

The task of said commission was to review the candidates and their campaigns. According to the proposed regulations, which were approved by the FINA Executive and were to be sent to the FIFA Bureau for approval, presidential candidates should be prohibited from promoting their candidatures in any public debates or gatherings and must submit for review all documents used in the electoral campaign.

The proposed regulations prompted Barelli and his European arm of swimming to decide not to nominate any European member to the Electoral Commission claiming that the proposed regulations “do not respect the Constitution and that FINA Bureau does not have the right to implement them”, as stated in a letter signed by Barelli on behalf of the European federation, and published by Italian swimming website

Referring to wanting “to ensure cordiality and respect”, Maglione then sent a letter asking to postpone the decision on the proposed regulations until after the election, also published by

Postponement provokes more critique
In the letter announcing his candidacy, Barelli claims that Maglione “appears to be unable or unwilling to solve the emerging problems” that world swimming is facing and lists a number of areas in which he finds FINA to be in lack of clear leadership or strategy. In his response to the withdrawal of the proposal, he further exemplifies his viewpoints and claims that there have been people inside of FINA who have supported Maglione’s proposal to change electoral procedures for their “personal benefits or gain”.

Barelli also takes a punch at FINA first vice-president and Maglione’s said-to-be successor, Kuwaiti Husain Al-Musallam who has been implicated in the FBI investigation into FIFA corruption. Al-Musallam was identified as ‘co-conspirator 3’ in the so called Richard Lai case that broke in the beginning of May and is allegedly one of several Kuwaiti officials from the Olympic Council of Asia who have offered bribes to the region’s football officials.

Barelli calls for Al-Musallam to be disqualified from standing for any FINA posts at the upcoming election and also refers to the fact that Kuwait Swimming federation is suspended from FINA along with a wide range of other Kuwaiti sports organisations including Kuwait’s NOC.

Maglione has had critique before during his two terms as FINA president, the first of which he won on a programme citing ‘one-term only’. This changed to two terms at the 2013 election and in 2015, Maglione had the constitution changed allowing him to stand for a third term, writes.

The election will take place during the FINA Congress set to take place in Budapest, Hungary on 22 July.


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