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FEI suspends officials following launch of Global Champions League

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

(c) Jenny Abrahamsson

The conflict between the FEI and the newly launched Global Champions League continues, as the FEI has confirmed the suspensions of two officials following the first leg of the series in Miami Beach.

A FEI spokesperson said: “The FEI has applied its rules relating to unsanctioned events and can confirm that the two officials are ineligible. FEI Officials will not be authorised to officiate in any capacity at FEI and national events for a period of six months.”

It is international judge Rogier van Iersel and course designer Rob Jansen that now have faced FEI’s previously warned reactions towards officials assisting at Global Champions League events, a new showjumping series launched this month.  

In a joint statement Rogier van Iersel and Rob Jansen explain their point of view:

“We feel that what Jan has developed with GCT for more than 10 years has been great for the development of showjumping. The concept of the Global Champions League is another dimension and the first two events have proven what we thought, that it will be good for showjumping. We wanted to support this initiative and if you saw the atmosphere in Miami and Mexico it has immediately proven itself to be the positive new dimension we expected. Secondly, we don’t understand at all that riders and horses are allowed to compete and that officials are being used to try to block it, which we feel is totally ridiculous for a number of reasons, including horse welfare. The precautions for horse welfare at GCT and GCL events are far and above requirements.

It is a transparent format and people understand it immediately. We saw in Mexico, where there has not been this level of showjumping for many years, and people were very enthusiastic and understood it. We are really pleased we can support the development of this and we are really positive and pleased to help.

We have been fully transparent towards the FEI and informed them openly that we would support the League and its development. We requested a waiver according to the rules to allow us to do this. The waiver was at first denied and the decision was appealed and is still ongoing.”

The Global Champions League (GCL) is currently the subject of an ongoing case for the Belgian Competition Authority (BCA), and has been so since last summer when the GCL filed a complaint with the BCA in Brussels accusing the FEI of breaching European Union competition law.

Due to a decision from the BCA, the FEI was forced compile with a ruling to publish a statement declaring that – as an interim measure – athletes and horses competing in the GCL events would not be sanctioned. Officials have not been spared though, which the two suspensions are a clear example of.

FEI President Ingmar de Vos has previously stated that: “(…) I want to make it absolutely clear, these are only interim measures which we will continue to fight and that no decision has yet been taken on the merits of the case.”

As to the time frame on the decision in the ongoing case for the Belgian Competition Authority, it has not been confirmed when a decision on the merits of the case can be expected.


Text © World of Showjumping // Picture © Jenny Abrahamsson

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