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Democracy rules at FEI general assembly in Copenhagen

Equestrian federations from around the world voted with their feet this morning in the first meeting of the FEI (International Equestrian Federation) general assembly in Copenhagen.

The FEI had hoped to approve plans for a new structure in the last steps towards a modernisation process that began when the FEI held its general assembly in London in 2005.

But in an extraordinary general meeting this morning, 49 out of 98 national federations (NFs) voted against adopting the statutes.

Voting on a new board had been planned should the statutes have been approved, but although the votes were narrow (48 votes for, 49 against and 1 abstention) the EGM was immediately adjourned.

Speaking afterwards, a representative of the Norwegian equestrian federation said: “Everyone liked the statutes, but not the way it was done — the FEI took away the democratic process”.

It seems NFs didn’t have enough time to look over the proposals — a representative from India told me he had received them only three weeks before this meeting in Copenhagen.

Vladimir Platov from Russia said his country also voted against the statutes — “It wasn’t done properly” he said.

Andrew Finding from the British Equestrian Federation declined to say which way he voted, but said it was now time for the FEI to work with NFs for to find a way forward.

“We all know change is necessary, the NFs want to modernise, we need to find a way to make that possible now,” he said.

The extraordinary general meeting was the first of three days of meetings at the FEI general assembly in Copenhagen.

It was started with a plea from current president Princess Haya for all NFs to approve the statutes to enable the FEI to “take the next step”.

“There’s no more that can be done to move forward other than restructure,” said Princess Haya.

“If you wish us to serve the sport, you must take this step.”

Among the proposals was that the FEI would be governed by a 7-member board rather than 19-member bureau.

But with a slim but definite vote against, the current statutes must remain in place and it’s back to the drawing board for the FEI. The modernisation process will not be on the agenda for the 2010 general assembly.

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