A huge row has erupted within the sport of polo, with the world’s three largest polo associations splitting from the international governing body.

Argentina, the US and now the UK polo associations have withdrawn from the Federation of International Polo (FIP) following disagreements with its chairman Patrick Guerrand-Hermès.

Described by polo insiders as “the biggest thing to hit polo in decades”, the three countries represent more than half of the world’s amateur and professional polo players.

“It is with the deepest regret that we three associations have resigned from the FIP,” said a spokesman speaking on behalf of the three.

“We believe strongly in the concept of a global body to represent the sport of polo in international forums, but we have been disappointed by the unwillingness of the current president to take on board or even discuss the concerns of ourselves and others.

The spokesman continued: “The polo world is a small one so it is a sad day for the game.”

The withdrawal of the Asociación Argentina de Polo (AAP), the US Polo Association (USPA) and the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA) has been followed with the resignation of a number of key officials within the FIP — which appears to be rapidly imploding.

Guerrand-Hermès has been chairman of FIP since 2005, and is seen by many as a relative newcomer to the sport.

Earlier this year, the FIP signed an “accord” with the global governing body of horsesport, the FEI (International Equestrian Federation) and there were plans for polo to feature in the next World Equestrian Games.