Concern as no live bids on the table for major 2025 championships

  • There is a risk that the senior European Championships in eventing, showjumping and para dressage will not go ahead next year, unless willing hosts are found soon.

    In his opening speech at the 2024 FEI Sports Forum (29–30 April), FEI president Ingmar de Vos said that the organisation is still “discussing and looking for” organisers to hold these championships, and while they have “some leads”, it is becoming “more and more difficult” to find hosts.

    The forum held two sessions to discuss the bidding process and championship models.

    The debate answered two major questions – the first being that riders and the sporting community view championships of all sizes as being incredibly important, and the second that costs for organisers are a big problem. The FEI now plans to set up a working group to explore suggestions.

    Alongside the regular operational costs that go into organising a big show, championship organisers also encounter significant extra expenses, including accommodating large numbers of people, hosting fees, and broadcast requirements.

    The forum heard from organisers who heralded the significant benefits of hosting championships, such as the contributions it has made to developing the sport in the country and the local area. And from another who, having done so, had little interest in doing so again.

    Ideas included having a qualification system and then capping the number of competitors at championships, rethinking timetables to enable organisers to make the most of weekend days, and giving federations a fixed travel budget – rather than organisers having to pay for a set number of hotel rooms, which are often not used.

    Ways to share risk and reward, between organising committees, the FEI and potentially national federations, also came up numerous times.

    The Italian equestrian federation secretary general Simone Perillo said that championships are “fundamental” and the recent championships Italy has hosted have been a “fantastic investment” and “opportunity to promote the sport”.

    “On the other hand, the costs have been very challenging,” he said. “The business model needs to be changed. There should be a shared risk.”

    He added that the split shouldn’t be 50:50 between organisers and the FEI, but that “drastic change” is needed and the lack of bids is a “major crisis”.
    International Jumping Riders Club president François Mathy Jr said it is “very clear that championships are vital for our sport”, also voicing strong support for European Championships in non-Olympic qualifier years.

    “This is where the real sport happens – nobody can buy their way in,” he said. “It’s the best of the best, that’s where real sportspeople want to be.”
    Closing the forum, Mr de Vos said: “The fact that everybody needs and wants championships, including continental championships in the non-Olympic and Paralympic qualification years, is important information for us.

    “I don’t have a solution for the European Championships in jumping, eventing and para dressage 2025. We are still working on some possibilities and we need to see what we can do but I must be honest, I cannot promise anything.

    “We need to see how far we can go to convince these organisers, but we need to be also very careful not to create precedents.”

    He added that he heard a lot of “kerching” during earlier discussions, but the FEI “does not have a [money] printer in the basement”, so it needs to be “realistic”.

    “I can only commit that we will try to do our utmost to have these championships in 2025, and that we really need to look at future editions and what we can do to make life easier for organisers,” he said.

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits. 

    You may like...