European Aquatics Boss Silva About To Host Emergency Meeting After Ethics Complaint Against Him Sparks Inquiry In Portugal
Antonio Silva has called an emergency meeting of the European Aquatics Bureau at 7pm CET today in an attempt to answer allegations contained in a complaint against him sent to the continental body as well as World Aquatics with a request for an ethics inquiry.
Read the story in full at The Inquisitor, complete with the bombshell letter from Alexandra Jorge, the whistleblower and former secretary to the Portuguese federation’s General Assembly who escalated matters to the Portuguese Government and sparked an inquiry about to get underway; plus Silva’s response and the fraught exchanges he has had with delegates of the general assembly over the intellectual property rights and other issues.
In a case that may see the first serious test for the Aquatics Integrity Unit, first test of independence as questions swirl around European Aquatics’ Portuguese president António Silva will speak to delegates online in a session seen by some of those who will join the call as a “challenge and a chance to fend off a serious threat to his re-election later this month”.
Just four months ago, European Aquatics opened a new golden era of good governance with this fanfare of a headline: “LEN becomes European Aquatics, approves ethics code and sets up independent Integrity Unit”.
Silva’s late 2021-early 2022 election-campaign commitment to integrity and that headline from the LEN congress in Madeira last September may well be sincere. But words are not enough in the face of a challenge coming from his home country, including the Portuguese federation, including the delegate who says that the answers given so far from Silva have “compromised” trust in him.
When Jorge quite her role as general assembly secretary last April, her resignation letter included this:
“The reasons, because there are always underlying reasons, is that since July 2021 I have witnessed some situations on the part of the FPN Management that, in my opinion, may be in contradiction with the most elementary legal principles, such as equality between practitioners and clubs and legal security, in contradiction with the FPN’s own regulatory standards.
Because it is statutorily impossible for me to ask for clarifications from the General Assembly table and the FPN Board, and the impossibility of meeting with the Board President – who, at first, showed himself available, but then did not fulfil his commitment, without any form of explanation – all I have left is this decision.”Alexandra Jorge
The first Portuguese president of an international federation in aquatics is swimming against a tide of questions, including why he registered intellectual property rights to a domestic federation water-safety scheme and brand in his own name and on suggestions of nepotism in connection with contracts handed to service providers at both the Portuguese and European federations and positions and privileges granted to close associates of those in leading roles in Europe. Silva is also facing questions about using Portuguese federation funds for his European election campaigning.
In his responses and explanations so far, Silva denies there are any issues that cannot be explained and he has rejected any allegations that suggest wrongdoing.
And all that is adding to the existing pressure of a time when millions in refunds may be owed to Israel and Russia because of event cancellations caused by military conflicts involving both those countries.
Silva, a member of the World Aquatics bureau, was the new European board’s integrity poster-boy in a revolution that contributed to a World Aquatics decision in November 2022 to slap the former president of the European regulator, Paolo Barelli, the Italian Olympic swimmer of the 1970s, an Italian Senator and vice president at FINA (as World Aquatics was before its own rebranding in December 2022) with a two-year suspension.
Now, Silva is facing his own ethics challenges one year after the inaugural World Aquatics Integrity Unit opened for business and four months after European Aquatics voted in favour of establishing its own Integrity Unit. We can’t repeat that headline claim that LEN “sets up independent Integrity Unit” because the new Integrity Code that will allow that to be the case does not come into force until “the election of the Integrity Unit on 27 January 2024 at the European Aquatics Congress in Athens”, as LEN reminds us.