Kuwait’s Husain Al-Musallam Becomes First Asian Nominee for FINA President

Husain Al-Musallam of Kuwait during the Asian Swimming Federation General Congress; Photo Courtesy: Asian Swimming Federation

The Asian Swimming Federation Saturday unanimously approved the nomination of Husain Al-Musallam of Kuwait for the presidency of FINA.

It’s the first time Asia has put forth a nominee for the presidency, elections for which will occur in Doha, Qatar, on June 5, 2021. Al-Musallam’s nomination came at the Asian Swimming Federation’s general congress in Muscat, Oman.

Al-Musallam competed for Kuwait in the 1970s, swimming at the World Championships, Asian Games and Pan-Arab Championships. He joined the FINA Bureau in 1996 and is currently its First Vice President.

A trained commercial pilot, Al-Musallam has been active in sports administration for decades. He joined the Olympic Council of Asia in 1982, rising to become a member of its Executive Board in 2003. He’s served as the Olympic Council of Asia’s Director General since 2005. He is also the Secretary General of the Kuwait Olympic Committee, taking the position in the summer of 2019.

“This unity has never been more important than it is today,” Husain Al-Musallam said in an Asian Swimming Federation press release. “We all work so much better when we do so as a team. … I must be honest with you. We all know that there are tough times ahead. The global pandemic places fresh difficulties on us every day. I have no magic wand. There are no easy solutions, but I can promise you this. Nobody will work harder than me to make sure that FINA emerges from this crisis stronger than ever.”

Al-Musallam’s career is not without controversy: He was implicated in the FIFA bribery scandal in 2017. He was cleared for re-election by FINA’s ethics watchdog in 2017. His candidacy has the backing of the Kuwaiti government, crucial since Kuwait was banned from competing under its flag at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Sheikh Abdulwahab Al Hanai, the Asian Swimming Federation Ethics Committee’s Secretary General, is specifically cited in the release of announcing that “all of Asia’s candidates had been cleared to participate in next year’s elections.”

Al-Musallam is seen as a favorite to succeed Uruguayan Julio Maglione, who has headed FINA since 2009.

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