Husain Al-Musallam vowed to provide athletes with a louder voice, more prize money and enhanced support during his first speech as International Swimming Federation (FINA) President, as well as pledging to reduce the per diems received by Bureau members.
Al-Musallam made the declarations during a speech at the FINA Congress, following the first Bureau meeting held under his leadership of the governing body.
The newly elected FINA President highlighted the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which he cited as a key reason for changes at the governing body.
Al-Musallam expanded on pledges made in his election manifesto to reduce annual costs of the governing body and provide greater support for athletes.
Among the plans was a pledge from Al-Musallam not to take a salary or receive compensation during his four-year term.
Al-Musallam said the decision was part of efforts to “lead by example”, before announcing plans to cut per diems of FINA Bureau members by half.
“I want FINA to be able to send more money to the National Federations to be spent on development and I want to commit to spending more on the athletes programme and prize money.
“In order to do this, we need to reduce expenditure.
“FINA is currently spending far too much in administration and at its headquarters.
“I will take no payment, either through salary or other compensation, for any of my work with FINA.
“All people in FINA administration need to play our part, I plan to reduce per diems for Bureau members by half.
“We will all be beneficiaries as we all see the sport we love grow and flourish.”
The costs of FINA administration had been highlighted earlier in the Congress by a delegate from the Cook Islands, who questioned the disparity between staffing costs and development funding.
FINA reportedly spent CHF27.9 million (£22 million/$31 million/€25.5 million) on payroll during the four-year cycle from 2017 to 2020, while CHF21.4 million (£16.8 million/$24 million/€19.5 million) was spent on development funding.
New FINA president Mr. Al Musallam “Today is the start of an exciting new journey for the Aquatic sports family together. FINA will be the first IF to organise democratic elections for active athletes” #waterisourworld pic.twitter.com/drPNgoZuMD
Al-Musallam announced that 20 active athletes would be elected to the FINA Athletes Committee at the World Aquatics Championships next year in Fukuoka, following a change in the FINA bylaws.
Athletes will elect the members of the committee, whereas they were previously appointed.
Al-Musallam said the Athletes’ Committee would select delegates, who will attend the FINA Congress and Bureau meetings, where they will have a vote.
“I believe it is right that we give them the opportunity to earn larger financial rewards as well,” Al-Musallam said.
“I will deliver more prize money to athletes and a fair distribution to all aquatics athletes, there must be no discrimination.
“There will be rewards based on all major competition performances.
“This year I will allocate at least an extra $2.4 million (£1.7 million/€2 million) in athlete prize money.”
Al-Musallam said he would also launch an athlete education programme, which will run alongside an existing scholarship programme.
The programme, it is claimed, will give athletes the opportunity to train and study abroad at locations with better facilities.
Memorandums of Understanding have been signed with four universities to date, Al-Musallam said.
Al-Musallam claimed this would help athletes from countries with poorer facilities to have the opportunity to pursue their ambitions in the sport.