European Swim Bosses Set February 5 Date With Their Own Destiny: Congress Will Test A Big Vote Of No Confidence Against Them

2021-11-03 Reading Time: 2 minutes
Turbulence in the pool - by Craig Lord
Turbulence in the pool - by Craig Lord

Under pressure from its member federations, the leadership of LEN, Europe’s regulator for aquatics, has set a date with its own destiny: an extraordinary congress will be held on February 5 next year to test a vote of no confidence in current European swim bosses.

After 23 nations won a vote against the LEN executive at the federation’s Congress in Budapest in late September, they and two other nations reminded the current leadership that a request for an extraordinary Congress had been made at the same time.

LEN general secretary David Sparkes, the former CEO of British Swimming, then set a deadline by which all the dissenting federations would have to write in, one by one, to request an extraordinary congress. That elicited a single reply on behalf of 25 nations insisting that they be heard collectively.

Paolo Barelli LEN president at the opening of the Nyon offices - Photo courtesy of Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia
Paolo Barelli LEN president – Photo courtesy of Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia for LEN

The LEN leadership is topped by president Paolo Barelli and Sparkes, both members of the global regulator’s FINA Bureau, on which Barelli also serves in an executive position. They have now now accepted that a special Congress will be held on February 5 but has restricted the relevant agenda to one item not two: it will allow a vote that will see the current leadership fall or prevail but it will not allow a vote on the election of new officers.

The latter may face further kickback from member federations who have won the first two rounds of the struggle against a LEN leadership under pressure from investigations by legal and sports authorities into allegations of financial irregularities at the League.

The latest move by European swim bosses in the midst of the continent’s short-course championships, underway in Kazan, Russia, follows a statement issued by the Nordic Swimming Federation (see below) for the February 5 Congress to be agreed and confirmed.

European Swim Bosses Face Further Pressure

The Joint Statement by the Presidents of the Members of the Nordic Swimming Federation

The nine member federations of the Nordic Swimming Federation would like to issue this joint statement regarding the slow handling of the petition for an extraordinary congress that was presented during the proceedings of the LEN Congress on September 25, 2021 in Budapest. It would have been well within reason and within the LEN Constitution for the LEN Bureau to resolve this situation quickly after having lost a de facto vote of no confidence in Budapest by calling for an extraordinary election congress as requested in the petition. Over a month has passed since the Congress and almost no information has been sent to the member federations of LEN. A further delay in having an extraordinary congress will only deepen the divide in European Aquatics and will distract us from dealing with the important issues for the development of the aquatic sports in Europe. 

We now call on the LEN Bureau for urgent actions so that an extraordinary election congress can be held on February 5, 2022.

This joint statement is supported by the Nordic Members of the LEN Bureau; Pia Holmen-Christensen, Christer Magnusson and Sami Wahlman.

October 28, 2021 – signed:

Denmark Pia M Johansen, President
Estonia Simon Renno, President
Faroe Islands Rókur í Jákupsstovu, President
Finland Ville Riekkinen, President
Iceland Björn Sigurðsson, President
Latvia Aivars Platonovs, President
Lithuania Tomas Kučinskas, President
Norway Cato Bratbakk, President
Sweden Pia Zätterström, President

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