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Brussels Court of Appeal rules in favour of freedom of choice for riders enabling launch of Global Champions League in 2016

Thursday, 22 October 2015
Sport

Photo (c) World of Showjumping

The Court of Appeal in Brussels today upheld an earlier decision of the Belgian Competition Authority enabling the 2016 launch of Global Champions League. This is announced in a press release issued today by Bell Pottinger. 

The press release reads:

"The decision means riders have the freedom to compete in the highly anticipated GCL events, where teams will go head to head for unprecedented prize money in spectacular destinations worldwide next year.

The revolutionary new format, developed by the hugely successful Global Champions Tour (GCT) individual show jumping circuit, will see Olympic and World Champions in action every Friday at 15 sensational GCT destinations around the world.

In June of this year, the GCL filed a complaint with the BCA alleging the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) had breached EU competition law by using its rules to prevent riders and horses from competing in events not approved by the FEI by imposing a so-called "exclusivity clause".

At the request of GCL, the BCA decided in July to suspend the "exclusivity clause", allowing GCL Team Competitions to go ahead in 2016.

The FEI challenged and requested the suspension of the interim measures. Today the Court of Appeal in Brussels rejected the request and upheld the earlier decision by the Belgium Competition Authority (BCA). As a consequence the "exclusivity clause" of the FEI continues to be suspended in respect of the GCL.

The Court of Appeal said the FEI had failed to demonstrate the injunction inflicted serious and irreparable harm on the federation. The court said the FEI had managed for more than a century without the clause and failed to show why it was indispensable.

Frank H McCourt Jr, co-owner of GCT, said: “Momentum around the Global Champions League concept has been rapidly gathering pace since it was conceived and we welcome today’s news that the last hurdle has been removed.  We now look forward to focusing our energies on building a new and exciting era for show jumping.

“Global Champions League represents a transformational opportunity for the sport of show jumping.  There has been great anticipation in the show jumping community for a clear path to growth, opportunity, and exposure around the world.  We firmly believe that Global Champions League will deliver on all fronts as it builds a truly global fan base and creates exciting opportunities for everyone involved.”

Continuing in the same pioneering spirit of GCT to safeguard the future of the sport, GCL is committed to improving standards for horses, riders, owners and sponsors in the sport and horse welfare will remain a top priority.

Alongside the GCT’s top class vets, stewards will also be on hand at all GCL events to help ensure the well-being of participating horses.  

To that end, GCL has invited the FEI to oversee horse welfare safeguards at the new-format competitions by inviting its own officials to join its own top class team of vets. At every GCL event experienced vets will be on standby with state-of-the-art horse welfare facilities available at all times as at all GCT events. Technology includes the Human Tecar Therapy technology, a physiotherapy system also used on Formula 1 drivers, and also high tech diagnostic equipment."

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