The FEI has told H&H it will be “opposing by all legal means” the decision made by the Belgian Competition Authority in relation to a new “football club-style” competition for showjumping.
Last month the organisers of the Global Champions League (GCL) took legal action against the FEI over an “anti-competitive exclusivity clause”.
The new showjumping league and team competition was masterminded by the Global Champions Tour (GCT) and was mooted last year.
It was intended to boost prize money to around €20m (£15.6m) and organisers hailed it as a “showjumping revolution”.
Club owners would field “star strikers” and two riders from a squad of four would be selected to compete at each event.
However, a year later, the GCT — which is a series approved by the FEI — said the idea was not addressed in a “timely manner” by horsesport’s governing body.
A complaint was filed with the Belgian Competition Authority, accusing the FEI of breaching European Union competition law.
The Belgian Competition Authority (BCA)’s has now decided to suspend the so-called “exclusivity clause” imposed by FEI. The ruling means the league now looks set to launch in 2016.
According to the GCL no participating rider will be penalised by the FEI for taking part in the GCL.
However, the FEI argued that the rule was to safeguard the riders and competitions.
“Unsanctioned events are not subject to FEI regulations, and their organisers and participants are not accountable to the FEI for compliance with such regulations,” a spokesman told H&H.
“As a result, the FEI has no way of safeguarding the welfare of horses and athletes participating in such events, or of protecting the integrity of the events.”
The FEI is now appealing.
“The FEI has taken note of the decision made by the Belgian Competition Authority,” said FEI president Ingmar de Vos.
“We disagree with this decision. The FEI is now reviewing the decision and will oppose it by all legal means.”
GCT president Jan Tops said the ruling now gives the GCL “a clear path to launch in 2016”.
“It is important to note that the decision is in clear recognition that without the suspension of the exclusivity clause it would have been impossible to go ahead,” he added.
“I am happy that there is now clarity for all the riders and our stakeholders and we look forward to delivering fantastic competition for the enjoyment of everyone.
“We look forward to continuing to transform the sport we love to ensure a bright and healthy future for everyone involved in showjumping around the world.”