A group of French event riders have added their voices to the debate about prize money in eventing in the form of an open letter to help stimulate discussion. H&H finds out more...
THE push for a debate and review of prize money in eventing has taken an international turn, with a group of French event riders penning an open letter to help spark ideas of ways to solve the issue for all stakeholders.
The subject has also been a topic for debate at a national level in Britain and riders are keen that Covid-related reductions in prize funds do not become the new normal.
The open letter, which thanks all those for helping restart competition this year, strongly urges against prize money reductions becoming permanent and calls for wider discussion on the topic to help form a combined proposal to take to the FEI.
It states the reduction “and in some cases complete lack” of prize money has raised “serious concerns among professional event riders and their owners”.
“Focusing on international competition, in fact this is by no means either a new phenomenon or isolated to any particular country. It is not an issue particular to the strictures of Covid but it has certainly been exacerbated by them,” it states.
“As well as the obvious and immediate loss of income to riders and owners, this widespread trend has other negative effects on the sport: it will lead to further elitism, narrowing the accessibility of participants to the fortunate few and diminish the merits of talent. It will impact the impression and reputation of the sport in the eyes of the general public, the sponsors both actual and potential, TV and media and even the IOC [International Olympic Committee] itself.
“The blame for this situation cannot be laid at the door of competition organisers, they have seen regulatory constraints and their expenses increase constantly year-on-year, putting more pressure on budgets. Corrective action is needed and it is felt that the first steps must be taken by the FEI.
“One Olympic equestrian discipline, showjumping, already has clear and established FEI minimum limits for prize money allocations from five-star down to three-star. It is a peculiar anomaly that similar steps were only taken for five-star in eventing. That situation seems to say to the world that only showjumping and five-star events are of any value.”
Eventing Riders Association (International) president Bruce Haskell told H&H the association is “100% supportive of the effort”, adding there are many factors to consider and it is important the subject involves discussion between riders, organisers and the FEI.
“If we want change, we need to create it,” he said. “Equally, we don’t want to see events going under. That is why we need to have open discussion. This is a great time of year to do that as there is time to talk, debate and get the dialogue going.”
He added what events are looking to offer and achieve, plus the growth of commercial enterprises as owners in Europe, as well as the desire from riders to change a system they are losing money from need consideration.
“We are lucky in Europe that we do have choice of events,” he said. “However, there are some internationals where people are coming back with less money from prize money than they paid to enter.
“We cannot let Covid set a precedent.”
An FEI spokesman told H&H prize money has been a topic raised with the FEI eventing committee.
“The FEI welcomes all open discussions and any proposals put forward for consideration,” he said, adding the organisation has not yet received an official proposal.
“In addition, proposals would need to be reviewed with eventing organisers to source the financing, which is uncertain in these times and would need to ensure that the organisers are able to guarantee the quality of the cross-country is maintained.”
H&H 22 October 2020
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