Paolo Barelli Pens Response to AASF FINA Election Endorsements

Paolo Barelli
Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala

The Asian Swimming Federation (AASF) recently released a letter confirming their support of Husain Al Musallam, as signed by Virendra Nanavati, Sr. Vice President of AASF.

The letter references FINA presidential candidate Paolo Barelli twice, stating that he was a part of the FINA decision authoring Al Musallam to be elected for positions within FINA.

Barelli penned a response earlier today highlighting some of his disagreements with Nanavati’s letter.

Read Barelli’s letter in full below:

Dear National Federations Presidents, Dear FINA Family Members, Dear Friends,

The letter of 6 July 2017 sent by Mr. Virenda Nanayati, Sr. Vice President AASF, to the FINA Members, is extremely surprising and bewildering.

Such letter aims at justifying the candidacy of Mr. Husain Al Musallam as both AASF Bureau and FINA 1st Vice President, as well as that of Mr. Sheikh Khalid Al Bader Al Sabah as AASF President.

I do not believe I need to once again highlight the reasons for the ineligibility of the two above mentioned individuals. The irregularity of their candidature is abundantly clear from both a political and regulatory standpoint.

It is worth reminding that Kuwait Swimming has been suspended by FINA since 2015 and that the current Kuwait Federation has not endorsed such candidatures.

Nonetheless, I must intervene regarding the fact that the representative of AASF, Mr. Virendra Nanavati, has mentioned my name twice in his letter, trying to make me part of the (wrong) decision taken by FINA allowing the candidacy of two members of the suspended Federation of Kuwait.

I have always considered this irregular and in complete contrast with the current FINA rules regarding the candidature to FINA positions (or to one of its Continental Organizations, AASF) by any individual who is part of a National Federation suspended by FINA.

I believe that the procedures put in place by FINA to allow such irregular candidatures are in contrast with the current FINA Constitutional rules, and, this was also confirmed by the legal representatives of FINA during official proceedings.

My point of view on this matter is very clear: the lack of good governance within FINA is indeed the reason that led me to put forward my candidacy to the Presidency of FINA.

This in order to promote an absolutely necessary change of behaviour, inspired by transparency and in full respect of the rules.

The most serious fact included in the letter sent by the representative of AASF, Mr. Virendra Nanavati, and that I want to strongly denounce, appears in the second to last paragraph “…in addition to the recommendation Asia has extended in respect of Mr. Vladimir Salnikov (RUS) e Mr. Erik Van Heijningen (NLD) for FINA Bureau membership Europe – World at large”.

It must be clear that LEN, the FINA European Organization, has already decided with regards to the two candidates of Europe for the at large positions: they are Mr. Fernando Carpena (ESP) and Mrs. Christa Thiel (GER).

The vocation of some Continental FINA Officials and Officers to politically interfere is already universally known, and this, in total disregard of the principles of neutrality and hence acting irregularly. I think that Mr. Virendra Nanavati, has once again shown and confirmed this attitude with his letter.

How is it possible that a FINA Continental Organization (which is a part of FINA!!!) takes the liberty to interfere in the choices of the representatives of another Continent to be voted for to the FINA Bureau? How is it possible that such nasty behaviours, which we have already experienced in the past and were denounced one year ago, can still happen, and even worse, are still allowed to happen?

Perhaps Mr. Virendra Nanavati is not fully aware of the content and the implications of the letter he signed. Possibly, he only put his signature on this letter, perhaps written by someone else above him, who wants to take over the World of Aquatics, whilst choosing to remain in the shadows.

I am sure that each individual National Federations of AASF does not really know the details of this matter, and I deem their behaviour to be absolutely correct.

However, the invitation to vote in this manner, officially promoted by the leadership of AASF, is a blatant and very serious case of interference. It shows, once again, that within FINA we are missing a responsible leader who can keep things under control and lead our Aquatic Family with authority and clarity.

It is important that all Member Federations reflect over this serious problem. This is seriously jeopardizing the success reached over the years by FINA, mainly thanks to the great and irreplaceable commitment of the National Federations, the Athletes and the Coaches.

For any additional information on my electoral programme, please also visit my website

Paolo Barelli

Ligue Européenne de Natation (LEN)
Italian Swimming Federation (FIN)
Candidate for the FINA Presidency

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