Battlelines Drawn For FINA Fight
Craig Lord
The composition of Europe's aquatic power base is set - soon we will know more about why the votes went the way they did and what it will mean in 2009

The first stage of the European battle for the future of FINA is settled. In Zurich, at LEN Congress, Bartolo Consolo (ITA) bowed out as president and was elected Life Honorary President of LEN in time-honoured tradition. 

The top job was taken by former LEN Treasurer, the amiable and capable Nory Kruchten (LUX), who defeated Vice-President Gennady Aleshin (RUS) by 49 votes to 45. The new Treasurer is Christa Thiel (GER), while Sven Folvik (NOR) was confirmed as Secretary. 

We will learn more about the deeper meaning of the composition of the new LEN Bureau in the weeks and months ahead, in terms of what it means for  FINA and the 2009 presidential vote and what happens in the four years after that. The LEN Bureau until 2013: 

  • Nory KRUCHTEN (LUX) President 
  • Sven FOLVIK (NOR) Secretary 
  • Christa THIEL (GER) Treasurer 
  • Gennady ALESHIN (RUS) Vice-President 
  • Dimitri DIATHESOPOULOS (GRE) Vice-President 
  • Tamas GYARFAS (HUN) Vice-President 
  • Francis LUYCE (FRA) Vice-President 
  • Erik Van HEIJNINGEN (NED) Vice-President 
  • Jerzy KOWALSKI (POL) Member 
  • Erich MEYER (SUI)  Member 
  • Andriy VLASKOV (UKR) Member 
  • Robert EBEJER (MLT)  Member 
  • Paolo BARELLI (ITA) Member 
  • David SPARKES (GBR) Member 
  • Ivan VARVODIC (CRO) Member 
  • Kurt MIKKOLA (FIN) Member 

Kruchten, Barelli, Gyarfas and Diathesopoulos are LEN's European representatives for the next FINA Bureau, leaving Thiel and Folvik, with a lower power base in their own continent than those ahead of them on the list, as the two remaining delegates elected from the "World at large" to make it to the FINA Bureau at the next FINA Congress, in 2009. 

There is much more to be revealed about what that all means in the not-too-distant future. Krutchen's win over Aleshin, for instance, meant, for instance, that there was no challenge to Thiel becoming treasurer, and left her in a position to scrape into sixth place by two votes on the ballot for the FINA Bureau roster at the world federation's Congress in Rome 2009. At a glance, the top table is divided in terms of which way the votes will go if the contest between incumbent FINA president Mustapha Larfaoui and his treasurer, Julio Maglione, materialises as scheduled next summer.

Here are how the votes went:

Four who make it to the FINA Bureau by automatic right:

  • 73 votes -- Nory Krutchen (LUX) 
  • 61 votes -- Paulo Barelli (ITA)
  • 60 votes -- Tamas Gyarfas (HUN)
  • 59 votes -- Dimitri Diathesopoulos (GRE)

The two extras allocated to Europe:

  • 54 votes -- Sven Egil Folvik (NOR)  
  • 48 votes -- Christa Thiel (GER)

Those who missed out:

  • 46 votes -- Andriy Vlaskov (UKR)
  • 43 votes -- Gennady Aleshin (RUS) 
  • 41 votes -- Francis Luyce (FRA) 
  • 37 votes -- Raphael Blanco (ESP) 
  • 30 votes -- Erik van Heijninger (NED)

Interesting to note that the Dutchman is last on that list. Strikes me as a capable man who could make a difference at FINA level. The lists above will mean much to those who have been working towards a specific outcome in FINA, and to those working towards a different outcome. Only a matter of time now before that information and interpretation makes it to the wider world - before the fun and games start in Rome next summer at a Congress that may well prove critical to the future welfare of international swimming.