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Stephan Conter in open letter to the FEI President: Ensure that everybody faces the same opportunities and challenges

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Stephan Conter. Photo (c) Julien Counet / Stephan Conter. Photo (c) Julien Counet /

Following up on the FEI Sports Forum last week, Stephan Conter – CEO and founder of the Stephex Group and event director for the Brussels Stephex Masters as well as Knokke Hippique – has send an open letter to FEI President Ingmar De Vos. 

In the letter, Conter addresses numerous issues that were up for discussion under the session dedicated to CSI/CSIO requirements last Monday in Lausanne – which ended up with a heated discussion about pay cards as well as the invitation system for the Global Champions Tour and Global Champions League. 

In his letter, Conter writes:

"The FEI, during the session dedicated to CSI/CSIO requirements / pay cards and moderated by John Madden presented an excellent view of the situation as well as a good summary. This session tackled most of the questions everybody had after learning about the new rules and decisions in application. 

The front intentions of this so called open and transparent presentation needs to be taken with distance especially when the time allocated to questions and answers got reduced to a minimum, just like the time taken to exchange or listen to the feedbacks of the assembly. The fact that most of the questions were diplomatically eluded by off topic answers didn’t help either."

Conter moves on to criticise the entire FEI voting set-up, and how the current invitation system and the invitation rules have come into force through it. Furthermore, Conter is critical towards how the FEI seems to be "implementing a clearly unbalanced two-speed system, favouring a series or certain organizations on the expense of others, this creating distinctive rules for certain events. The ones, disfavoured are submitted to the 80% rule of invitations owned by the FEI and the federations. The others not being submitted to that disastrous constraint."

The Belgian show organizer moves on to illustrate the advantages of a more free market for the events, that in Conter's opinion will "guarantee a large choice and increased accessibility for the riders to high level competitions". Conter goes on to ask the FEI President to ensure "common principles of equity and free concurrence" to the sport of jumping. 

Conter also writes:

"I therefore ask you not to content yourself with only one voice, or one interested person, but on the contrary to hear and listen to all the parts (riders, owners, sponsors, organisers) in their globality, to analyse the range of the different options present on the table in order to give everyone the same chance to collect points, ensuring everybody faces the same opportunities and challenges, cavaliers and organizers. 

I thus advocate, with all my strength a real reflexion by the FEI and a true dialogue."

Conter goes on to ask for similar rules for all 4* and 5* competitions. "It is indeed time that all understand, not to boycott the rules, but that all the organisers get treated equally and follow the same rules," he writes in the open letter. 

Conter also wants the FEI to ensure the same amount of ranking points available at every 5* or 4* show – not linked to prize money available as today. Furthermore, Conter advocates for more 5* competitions by lowering the minimum prize money going into such an event: "This would see the birth of more 5 star events (...) it would offer the riders a wider choice: The simultaneous organization of many 5 (or 4) stars during the same week-end would enable more riders to take part to competitions of equivalent level, accumulating ranking points (...) Such a system introduces greater accessibility for a larger number of riders, a kind of democratization without levelling down in the distribution of ranking points."

The letter goes on with numerous suggestions to the FEI, and can be read in its full below. 

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