FINA withdraws recognition of PSI board

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Swimming representation photo
Swimming [Image by David Mark from Pixabay]

The world governing body for swimming known by the acronym FINA has withdrawn its recognition of the members of the Philippine Swimming Inc. (PSI) board and has established a stabilization committee to run the PSI’s day-to-day operations.

FINA (Federation Internationale de Natation) also empowered the stabilization committee to “conduct the proper and necessary amendments of the [PSI] Constitution and organize and conduct a new election.”

The FINA directive dated December 3 was signed by the international federation’s executive director Brent Nowicki and was emailed to PSI president Ma. Lailani “Lani” Velasco with the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Philippine Sports Commission furnished with emailed copies.

The FINA directive is effective immediately.

“The FINA Bureau discussed various complaints received by the FINA Office concerning matters of inter alia poor governance principles within your National Federation,” the FINA memo said. “For this reason, and as a matter of last resort, the FINA Bureau has confirmed the implementation of a Stabilization Committee, as set out in C 10.6 of the FINA Constitution.”

Article C 10.6 of the FINA Constitution states that “The Bureau may under exceptional circumstances appoint a stabilization committee to the extent the executive body of a member fails to adhere to practices of good governance, transparency, financial accountability and stability, participation in FINA events, or puts at risk the organi[s]ation and development of Aquatics in their country.”

FINA named POC legal head Atty. Wharton Chan and deputy secretary general Valeriano “Bones” Floro and Bases Conversion Development Authority senior vice president Arrey Perez as members of the stabilization committee.

The FINA decision stemmed from various complaints it received from stakeholders in Philippine swimming, including one from a parent whose swimmer-daughter won gold at the Hanoi Southeast Asian Games last May but was excluded from the national team to the Budapest world championships last June.

The PSI has already agreed to a FINA directive in 2018 to amend its by-laws but didn’t heed the international federation (IF). The IF reiterated the same directive after the PSI conducted its elections last April but got the same negative response.

“This verdict just came down from the IF [FINA],” POC president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said, who likened PSI’s predicament experienced by the karate, volleyball and tennis associations. The karate and volleyball leadership crises have been resolved resolved, but the Philippine Tennis Association remains under a POC caretaker committee.

“We’ll be heeding the IF instruction with the POC putting premium on protecting the athletes,” Tolentino added.

The FINA dispatched Asia Swimming Federation secretary general Taha Suleiman Al Kishry last month to meet with POC and PSI officials in the hope of compeling the national sports association to heed the IF directive.

Al Kishry was also in the country to officially declare the country as host of the 11th Asian Age Group Swimming Championships at the New Clark City (NCC) Aquatics Center in Capas, Tarlac, in November next year.