FINA has stepped in to help the embattled LEN with its upcoming elections ©FINA

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) has stepped in to help the embattled European Swimming League (LEN) with its upcoming elections after 30 members raised concerns over the transparency, democracy and neutrality of the Extraordinary Congress.

In a letter to LEN, seen by insidethegames, FINA offered to "provide assistance" to LEN to "ensure that the basic elements of a fair and democratic election are met" with the organisation of the Congress, scheduled for February 5 in Frankfurt.

Elections for the entire LEN Bureau - including the President - are set to take place at the Congress.

The holding of the meeting has been the subject of much legal wrangling between a group of disgruntled members, who have joined a coalition called "Europe 4 All Aquatics", and the LEN administration.

FINA has also told LEN an online voting system must be implemented to ensure those who are not able to travel to Frankfurt can vote.

Officials from FINA and LEN are also set to meet to "discuss the current procedures in place for the Extraordinary Congress".

FINA said it will "take any necessary measures to ensure that democratic and transparent procedures (including the voting system) are put in place for the Extraordinary Congress".

"This includes, but is not limited to, the establishment of an electronic voting system," FINA executive director Brent Nowicki wrote in the letter.

FINA has also recommended installing an independent official to chair the Extraordinary Congress "for the sake of neutrality, transparency and to avoid any potential conflict of interest".

The worldwide body will also appoint electoral observers to oversee the Congress, Nowicki wrote.

FINA has written to LEN to offer its assistance with the Extraordinary Congress ©ITG
FINA has written to LEN to offer its assistance with the Extraordinary Congress ©ITG

Criticism of LEN from bodies including Europe 4 All Aquatics centres around financial problems within the organisation, with a lack of transparency and confidence in leading officials, such as incumbent President Paolo Barelli, also cited.

Portugal's António José Silva - the head of the group which called for a vote of no confidence in the LEN leadership and whose intervention triggered the process that led to the Extraordinary Congress being called - is the only confirmed candidate for President so far.

In an update on its campaign, Europe 4 All Aquatics, which has promised to lead LEN as a team if Silva is elected, claim more National Federations, such as Spain and The Netherlands, have declared their support.

LEN has been embroiled in crisis after 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 officials from the organisation.

Barelli and 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.

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.