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IJRC News: Full activity a few months away from the Rio Olympic Games

Wednesday, 15 June 2016
IJRC Corner

(c) IJRC

During 2016, World of Showjumping will bring our readers regular news from the International Jumping Riders Club. Below is the latest newsletter from the IJRC:

"Equestrian sport is currently in full activity a few months away from the Rio Olympic Games and alongside with these events, the International Jumping Riders Club continues its activities.

In April, the FEI Sport Forum took place – and more than ever in this Olympic year, it touched delicate items attracting a lot of attention from organizers, riders, owners and all the people connected with the equestrian world called to getting involved in the FEI’s decisions.

The International Jumping Riders Club attended the Sport Forum and expressed its members' opinions on numerous occasions:

The first day of the Sport Forum, held in the beautiful location of the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, was focused on the role of the FEI officials.

The International Jumping Riders Club delegation, represented by IJRC Director Eleonora Ottaviani and by Olympic Champion Steve Guerdat, underlined the importance of the fact that the FEI officials should have an equestrian background and a common sense that ensure that the rules are applied in the best possible way in order to guarantee horse welfare.

These qualities cannot be taught. They come from horsemanship experience, and only a good judge – with a feeling for the horses –  can transmit these values to the younger officials.

The IJRC suggested to have a panel composed by one veterinarian, one rider and one judge that help the FEI officials to take major decisions, in particular when there is a lot of pressure. Besides it is also important to introduce – in case of minor violations – a first step before a yellow card is distributed or disqualification takes place. 

The IJRC does not argue the fact that there must be a penalty, but it asks that an official is able to judge in regards to aggravating and mitigating of the cases, before take a decision – in respect of the principle of proportionality.

It is important that all athletes should be treated in the same way, but it is also important to consider the consequences of a compromised rider image. Consequences, interpretation and application of the rules (the weighing of any sanction on the basis of the principle of proportionality; voluntary or accidental rule violation) are principles that have to be remembered.

If the rules call for disqualification or suspension, it is the Club’s opinion that the following two legal principles have to be considered:

1) THE SWISS CONSTITUTION: The judge has the right to impose the penalty he believes is necessary, without himself being subject to strict regulations.

2) THE PROPORTIONALITY PRINCIPLE: Under the Swiss Constitution and the CAS regulations, there is a difference between the voluntary and the incidental violations.

These principles should also be considered by the FEI. 

The second day of the Sport Forum touched many delicate subjects, like for example, the importance to communicate our sport to a wider audience. This is of special importance in order to increase the audience, which will allow equestrianism to survive alongside more famous sports such as Formula 1 or football.

In this Olympic year, FEI is promoting a campaign called “Two Hearts” where all the protagonists of equestrian sports should create a story which shows the value of our sport. The campaign is flexible to be used by all National Federations as a global campaign.

Our sport has to survive and we all need to fight for attention.

Equestrian sports need to become attractive, exciting and “simple” for the audience and this was one of the main reasons for the long discussions about the possibility to change the competition format now characterized by four riders per team with the possible to have the drop score. But we cannot change the nature of our sport and we need to give priority to the horse welfare. 

Change – or be changed – was the message behind the discussion.

Mrs. Eleonora Ottaviani brought the voices of the riders’ majority, saying that the FEI in its decisions are considering too much a global picture, and less technical and sports conditions although they are very important – underlining that the IJRC is always confident in the Sport Institutions, FEI and IOC.

The International Jumping Riders Club understood that the IOC is worried about our sport, but it didn’t explicitly ask to reduce the number of members in a team – so the IJRC is convinced that four riders in a team and a drop-score is necessary for the format. 

There will be a next step in September, when all the proposals will be deeply analyzed by the FEI.

It’s clear that there will always be different points of views, but if the institutions (FEI and NFs), organizers, owners and riders will be sufficiently flexible, understanding each other and being able to give priority to the interest of sport, the IJRC is trusting and sure that it will be possible to reach interesting and useful solutions."


Text © IJRC

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