The Sheraton Airport Hotel in Frankfurt is set to hold tomorrow's European Swimming League Extraordinary Congress, called after a vote of no confidence in the leadership ©LEN

Italy's Paolo Barelli faces a battle to save his European Swimming League (LEN) Presidency at a vote of no confidence at tomorrow's Extraordinary Congress in Frankfurt, with Portugal's António José Silva heading a group of candidates from Europe 4 All Aquatics (E4AA) looking to replace the leadership.

A vote is due to be held on dissolving the entire LEN Bureau at the Sheraton Airport Hotel in the German city, a move which is expected to be a formality and be followed by elections for all positions.

Silva is one of 19 candidates who have declared their intention to stand on E4AA's ticket.

The movement claims support from 40 National Federations, and has also put forward five vice-presidential candidates, Andida Bouma of The Netherlands for the secretary general post, Lithuania's Tomas Kučinskas for the treasurer role and a further nine officials for positions on the Bureau.

Four E4AA candidates, including vice-presidential hopefuls Josip Varvodic of Croatia and Kyriakos Giannopoulos of Greece, are bidding to become LEN representatives to the International Swimming Federation's (FINA) Bureau.

Working with FINA to identify ways to "create more alignment" features in E4AA's action plan for its first 100 days in office if its successful in usurping the current leadership.

The action plan includes four main pillars - integrity, making the sport accessible for all, aquatic disciplines learning and working together, and sustainability.

E4AA has also promised a restructured Bureau, announcing three officials it hopes will serve on an expanded LEN Bureau and two further potential nominees as representatives on the FINA Bureau.

It aims to review the LEN's competition structure and future calendars in its first 100 days.

The action plans features eight goals covering integrity, transparency and governance, seven for the accessibility of the sport, six for promoting collaboration between aquatic disciplines and eight on sustainability.

Italian official Paolo Barelli is set to face a challenge to his European Swimming League Presidency at tomorrow's Extraordinary Congress ©Getty Images
Italian official Paolo Barelli is set to face a challenge to his European Swimming League Presidency at tomorrow's Extraordinary Congress ©Getty Images

A first report has been promised at the LEN Congress in May.

Silva has vowed to begin implementing the action plan promptly if E4AA candidates are successful in the elections.

"I am very proud of the work that has been done by the Europe 4 All Aquatics team during this election campaign," he said.

"I’m also honoured that at least 40 of LEN’s Member Federations have publicly declared their support for my candidacy and for the goals and missions outlined in the manifesto.

"There is a lot of work to do and we must start right away.

"If we are successful in elections on Saturday, then we start work on Sunday to create the new LEN."

In a rare move, the deadline for candidates to declare their intention to stand for positions is the day of the Extraordinary Congress.

It is not yet known whether Barelli, who has served as the Italian Swimming Federation's President since 2000, intends to stand for re-election should the vote of no confidence prove successful.

Barelli had led the LEN since 2012, securing another four-year term at a virtual Congress in November 2020.

However, a group of 24 National Federations then under the banner of Movement, Europe for All called a vote of no confidence in the LEN leadership in September, triggering an Extraordinary Congress.

Criticism centred on financial problems in the organisation, and a statement from the group alleged a "lack of integrity, transparency and good governance in LEN".

An agenda and voting details for tomorrow's Extraordinary Congress have been removed from the LEN's website ©LEN
An agenda and voting details for tomorrow's Extraordinary Congress have been removed from the LEN's website ©LEN

Police in Switzerland seized documents during a raid on the LEN offices in Nyon last March as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged financial irregularities and improper conduct against LEN officials.

Barelli and British general secretary David Sparkes held their current roles with the European body at the time of the alleged events.

Tamás Gyárfás, who is also a former head of the Hungarian Swimming Federation, was LEN treasurer at the time, even though in 2019 he had been charged with ordering the murder of a rival media member in 1998.

Barelli, Sparkes and Gyárfá were reported to European authorities in 2020 over allegedly authorising six-figure payments to third-party companies over a period of five years.

They deny wrongdoing, and the LEN dismissed the accusations as "false" back in March last year.

Insidethegames revealed last month that FINA has offered its assistance to the LEN to "ensure that the basic elements of a fair and democratic election are met" in Frankfurt, including an online voting system for those unable to travel.

The LEN had published the agenda for the Extraordinary Congress with two items on the agenda - the dismissal of the Bureau, followed by elections if this is passed.

It also confirmed that the delegates would be able to vote electronically either on site or remotely.

However, this post no longer appears the LEN website, which now only states: "The LEN Congress shall take place on 5 February 2022, from 10:30 am at the Sheraton Airport Hotel in Frankfurt."

Insidethegames has asked the LEN for a comment.