‘Unacceptable for equestrian sport’: heated debate on showjumping harmonisation

  • The FEI has clarified it was not the body behind controversial proposals for “harmonisation” of entry fees in showjumping – and its president said he is not personally in favour of the idea.

    Riders including Steve Guerdat have shared videos on social media in which they set out their opposition to the plans, put forward by the Association of Jumping Organisers (AJO).

    Currently two distinct systems exist — the US system in which entry fees are calculated on a percentage of prize money and the European system in which they are fixed.

    The proposal from the AJO seeks to charge a global standard rate for entry fees, which in some instances could equate to costs trebling.

    Steve Guerdat said the scheme would make showjumping elitist, and that it made him “ashamed of his sport”.

    Rider Kevin Staut added: “In Europe we work closely with our breeders with whom we really need to be able to collaborate to develop the young horses.

    “The costs are already so high for our breeders, as well as for the international competitors, that it seems to me absurd to double, triple or even quadruple the cost of entry fees.”

    But FEI president Ingmar de Vos said that although he does not personally agree with the proposal, the question is a valid one.

    “[In one part of the world], the organiser of a five-star event cannot ask an entry fee but has to offer riders a four-star hotel but in the rest of the world an organiser can ask entry fees and doesn’t have to offer that service,” he said

    “We need to look at whether it would be a better idea to allow the event — wherever it is or whatever star level — to ask the correct fee for the services they provide.

    “We need to listen to the organisers because if we don’t have organisers, we don’t have sport, so we are opening the debate.”

    European Equestrian Federation president Hanfried Haring attended a meeting of national federation (NF) secretary generals on 14 March.

    In a letter to members after the meeting, Dr Haring wrote: “Regarding the harmonisation of CSI/CSIO requirements, the European NFs were united in their position and feedback provided to the FEI, making it clear that the proposal put forward by the AJO is not acceptable for equestrian sport in Europe. We sincerely thank all NFs and stakeholder groups that actively participated in the discussion and feedback process, enabling us to represent the interests of Europe in this very important matter.”

    Related articles:

    The topic is due to be discussed at the FEI sport forum on 10-11 April.

    The future of showjumping: don’t miss the full report in this week’s H&H magazine, out 23 March.

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