FEI Restructing Plan Voted Down in Victory for Europe

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COPENHAGEN, Nov. 17–In a vote interpreted as a victory for European federations, the International Equestrian Federation Extraordinary General Assembly on Tuesday voted against restructuring the FEI Bureau that would have given the secretariat more power.

Of 98 valid votes cast, 49 were against, 48 in favor and one abstention so the FEI will continue to be governed by a 19-member bureau rather than a proposed seven-member board.

The move to restructure the FEI by establishing a smaller board was championed by former FEI President HRH Doña Pilar de Borbón 12 years ago and was accepted in principle by the General Assembly in 2005 in London.

Current FEI President Princess Haya strongly supported the changes that would give the president more power, but all 40 European national federations joined a regional group opposed to reducing the influence of the major equestrian countries.

Throughout the summer, the FEI said it had extensive consultation aimed at “ensuring National Federations were listened to and that their feedback was integrated as much as possible.”

“In order to ensure regional representation, the original proposal was to have no more than two members per continent,” it said in a statement.

“On the basis of additional feedback from National Federations in South and Central America, it was modified not to allow more than one member per Regional Group. To guarantee the respect of democratic principles also called upon by European National Federations, the proposed election process provided for all candidates to be put to the vote of the General Assembly.

The process has been killed for at least two years as the 2010 General Assembly will focus on development, horse welfare and commercial initiatives, plus it is an FEI election year.