Paolo Barelli Blasts FINA Leadership for “Conflicts of Interest,” Running for FINA President

Cristha Thiel (L) Paolo Barelli LEN President David Sparkes LEN Flag Hand Over Diving Women 3m Springboard Final 32nd LEN European Championships Berlin, Germany 2014 Aug.13 th - Aug. 24 th Day12 - Aug. 24 Photo G. Scala/Deepbluemedia/Inside
Paolo Barelli (middle). Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala

Paolo Barelli, currently the head of the European Swimming Federation and Italian Swimming Federation, has announced himself as candidate for the position of FINA President.

In a letter to Europe’s governing bodies, he accused current FINA leadership, including President Julio Maglione, of “totally disregarding” Europe and accepting “outrageous conflicts of interest,” according to a report from InsideTheGames and author Nick Butler.

“As you well know all our long-standing complaints with regard to FINA and its unethical behaviour have been completely ignored,” Barelli wrote in his letter, according to InsideTheGames“It is precisely for this that I have decided to present my candidacy to the position of President at the upcoming FINA Congress in Budapest.

“I am aware that is not an easy task. Nonetheless, I feel it is the only way to make the world aware of the current untenable situation we are facing. We cannot continue to silently accept things that are clearly wrong or be bullied any further.”

Barelli went on to explain that no European had been in control of FINA since 1984 but that, in recent years, European athletes had won up to 50 percent of the medals awarded at major competitions. He accused FINA’s non-European leaders (including the Uruguay-native Maglione) of seeking control over both political and economic power.

He accused a FINA Executive, implied to be American Dale Neuburger, of a conflict of interest because Neuberger is a FINA Bureau member, a FINA executive and also a director of FINA commercial partner TSE Consulting. (Neuburger, for his part, has explained to Swimming World in the past that he is in no way involved with TSE’s dealings with FINA and TSE’s FINA relationship does not fall under his department.)

Finally, Barelli accuses FINA of scheduling events that interfere with those on the LEN calendar, “limiting the historical collaboration which always existed among our member federations.”

However, Butler adds at the end of his article that while Barelli figures to receive support in his Presidential bid from Europe, most FINA-member nations from other continents are expected to back Maglione.

According to Butler, FINA will announce its full list of Bureau candidates May 22, and elections will be held during this summer’s World Championships in Budapest. But Barelli is reportedly also running for the position of European vice president and is the lone candidate, meaning he has a fall back should he lose his Presidential bid.

Husain Al-Musallam is the lone candidate to retain his position as first vice president, even after news broke last week that Al-Musallam was one of the conspirators who bribed a football official in the FIFA scandal currently being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Also in the running for vice presidential positions are Neuburger, South Africa’s Sam Ramsamy and Fiji’s Dennis Miller.

Read more from InsideTheGames by clicking here.