Husain Al Musallam Elected FINA President, Appoints American Brent Nowicki as Executive Director

Husain Al Musallam; Photo Courtesy: Asian Swimming Federation

Husain Al Musallam has been elected as the new president of FINA, running for the position unopposed at the quadrennial elections in Doha, Qatar. As one of his first acts, he has nominated American Brent Nowicki to fill the influential role of FINA Executive Director.

Al Musallam was the only candidate to replace Julio Maglione, who’d ruled FINA as president since 2009. Al Musallam proposed, and the FINA Bureau approved, the designation of Maglione as the FINA Honorary Life President. His predecessor, Mustapha Larfaoui, also holds that position. IOC President Thomas Bach sent a video message honoring Maglione.

The veteran Kuwaiti sports administrator Al Musallam is the first Asian nominee for the position and the first to hold the job. A former swimmer for Kuwait in the 1970s, he joined the FINA Bureau in 1996. He most recently served as the organization’s First Vice President. He’s also the Secretary General of the Kuwait Olympic Committee.

“I am proud that FINA is the first International Federation to introduce a By-law that protects Athletes’ rights,” Al Musallam said in a speech. “I am proud that 16 members of the new FINA Bureau are athletes who have competed in the Olympic Games, World or Continental Championships. I am proud that for the first time the FINA Executive has a female Vice-President, a great diving champion. Starting at the next year’s World Championships in Fukuoka, 20 active athletes will be elected to the Athletes Committee by the athletes themselves. FINA will be the first International Federation to organize democratic elections for active athletes”, added the new FINA President.”

Al Musallam’s rise in sporting circles is not without controversy, as he was named in investigations over FIFA corruption, though he has been neither charged nor cleared in the inquiry.

With the elevation of Al Musallam, South Africa’s Sam Ramsamy has been elected the First Vice President. Matthew Dunn of Australia is the Second Vice President. Zhou Jihong, an Olympic gold medal winning diver from China, is the first woman elected vice president of FINA.

The full list of vice presidents and FINA Bureau members is below, as well as new members of the FINA Ethics Panel and FINA Audit Committee. Al Musallam also pledged an expansion of the FINA Athletes Committee to include 20 active athletes after next year’s World Championships. FINA will also launch a reform committee to look into issues such as, “communication, marketing, governance, anti-doping, gender equity, safeguarding, major events and sport development.”

In his inaugural speech, Al Musallam expounded on campaign promises in the areas of, “no discrimination, teamwork, reduction of administration expenditure, additional financial support to National Federations, and priority to athletes.” He proposed a plan to halve the per diems of Bureau members to funnel funds toward athletes, starting with a promise of at least an extra $2.4 million in 2021. Al Musallam will not take a salary or compensation during his term. He is also seeking to launch and athlete education program, with FINA signing memoranda of understanding with four universities already.

In addition to Maglione stepping down, 2021 has brought change in the Executive Director’s chair, with Cornel Marculescu resigning after 35 years in the post. In his stead steps Nowicki, an American lawyer who has since 2013 been the managing counsel and head of the anti-doping division at the Court for Arbitration for Sport. He led CAS’s Anti-Doping Division at the 2016 and 2018 Olympics. He’s the first North American to hold that role at CAS and served on the International Committee of the Sports Lawyers Association.

FINA Bureau, 2021-25

President: Husain Al Musallam (KUW)

First Vice-President: Sam Ramsamy (RSA)

Second Vice-President: Matthew Dunn (AUS)

Treasurer: Dale Neuburger (USA)

Vice-Presidents: Paolo Barelli (ITA), Zhou Jihong (CHN), Juan Carlos Orihuela (PAR)

FINA Bureau Members

  • Zouheir El Moufti (MAR)
  • Donald Rukare (UGA)
  • Mohamed Diop (SEN)
  • Errol Clarke (BAR)
  • Cheryl Gibson (CAN)
  • Taha Al Kishry (OMA)
  • Andrey Kryukov (KAZ)
  • Fernando Carpena (ESP)
  • Dimitrios Diathesopoulos (GRE)
  • David Sparkes (GBR)
  • Doreen Tiborcz (MRI)
  • Algernon Cargill (BAH)
  • Veronica Stanham (URU)
  • Daichi Suzuki (JPN)
  • Virendra Nanavati (IND)
  • Romani Katoa (COK)
  • Antonio Jose da Silva (POR)
  • Erik van Heijningen (NED)
  • Penny Heyns (RSA – ex-officio member, Chair of FINA Athletes Committee)
  • Khaleel Al Jabir (QAT)
  • Gilles Sezionale (FRA)
  • Vladimir Salnikov (RUS)
  • Balasz Furjes (HUN – the last four represent countries hosting international events from 2021-2025)

Ethics Panel

  • Jean Gay (SUI)
  • Abdon Deguenon (BEN)
  • Rashid Alanezi (KUW)
  • William J. Hybl (USA)
  • Raymond Hack (RSA)
  • Chris Fydler (AUS)

Audit Committee

  • Jan Exner (CZE)
  • Debendranath Sarangi (IND)
  • Gustavo Mastroianni (URU)

Reform Committee

  • Francois Carrard (SUI)
  • Jack Buckner (GBR)
  • Abdullah Al Hayyan (KUW)
  • Moses Benon Mwase (UGA)
  • Raymond Hack (RSA)
  • Michele Bernasconi (SUI)
  • Darren Kane (AUS)
  • Joseph Edward Degroff (USA)
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