Europe 4 All Aquatics is set to propose candidates for elected positions on the LEN Bureau ©Europe 4 All Aquatics

Portugal's António José Silva has announced his bid to become the new head of the European Swimming League (LEN) after an Extraordinary Congress was called to see the entire continental body's leadership - including President Paolo Barelli - face an election.

Silva, the President of the Portuguese Swimming Federation, is standing on behalf a movement called "Europe 4 All Aquatics", which is set to propose other candidates for elected position on the LEN Bureau.

Europe 4 All Aquatics comprises of a group of 24 National Federations which issued a vote of no confidence in September against those in charge of the LEN.

Criticism centred around financial problems within the organisations, with a lack of transparency and confidence in leading officials also cited.

An Extraordinary Congress is scheduled to be held in German city Frankfurt on February 5 where Barelli and rest of the LEN Bureau are due to face an election.

Silva, a member of the International Swimming Federation (FINA) Bureau, has confirmed that he will be running for the LEN Presidency.

"I represent a movement, called Europe 4 All Aquatics, made up of European federations who share a vision for aquatics and a commitment to positive change," said Silva in a video posted on social media.

"We stand now at a historic moment for the sport of aquatics.

"After the recent elections at FINA, it is now the turn of LEN.

"Sweeping reforms are on the agenda.

"I am honoured to announce that I will be standing as candidate to become the new President of LEN.

"'Unity in Vision' is our campaign slogan because we represent all types of federation, large or small, who share a desire for change that will help us all.

"We stand for democracy, integrity and transparency.

"I am a candidate not because of personal ambition but to serve LEN as captain of a team."

A questionnaire has been issued by Europe 4 All Aquatics to all LEN member federations seeking input on a proposed manifesto and action plan.

The group is also set to host meetings in the coming days to discuss ideas, projects, and priorities based on four pillars, entitled "integrity", "our sport", "aquatic disciplines" and "sustainability".

LEN President Paolo Barelli is set to be up for election at February's Extraordinary Congress ©Getty Images
LEN President Paolo Barelli is set to be up for election at February's Extraordinary Congress ©Getty Images

"Our vision is for LEN to be an innovative, inclusive, and diverse Continental Federation, underpinned by the highest standards of integrity, that works to develop our sport and serve its members and other stakeholders," added Silva.

"We will unveil the detailed manifesto in the first week of January but will provide constant communication between now and February 5."

Europe 4 All Aquatics has stepped up its campaign in recent days with the creation of accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

In a post across the social media accounts, the group said December 20 marked the official launch of the Europe 4 All Aquatics and published a letter with an update on the LEN Extraordinary Congress.

"Together with many European representatives we witness, and welcomed, the proposals from the FINA Reform Committee which was one of the initiatives of the President," the statement read.

"The fact that Congress gave massive support to the proposals should be underlined.

"You have also received a communication from the LEN general secretary David Sparkes which confirms some details of the organisation of the Extraordinary Congress and specifically states that the agenda points regarding the dismissal of the LEN Bureau and election of LEN and FINA Bureau members are confirmed.

"We are looking forward to close and open discussions and co-operation with all European federations, with the common aim to develop European aquatics, together with our friends in FINA under the Presidency of Mr Husain Al-Musallam."

Frustrations among disgruntled European federations increased over the delay in the LEN calling the elections.

FINA President Al-Musallam said he had received "official communication" from the LEN that it will call for an Extraordinary Congress in Frankfurt on February 5.

"They agree and they gave us clear communication to us in this regard," said Al-Musallam.

"They accept and they will carry out accordingly to the demand of more than 23 National Federations in Europe."

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

Barelli and 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.

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.

Barelli was re-elected LEN President after defeating France's Gilles Sezionale by 86 votes to 13 in November 2020.

The Italian is serving a third term in office but his leadership of the organisation now appears under threat.

In September, Silva led the 24 national governing bodies in signing the petition calling for the Congress.

The organisEurope 4 All said the German, French, Russian, Greek and Swiss swimming bodies were among those to support early elections being held.

insidethegames has contacted the LEN for comment.