FEI Sports Forum Kicks Off Sessions to Give Princess Haya Chance at 3rd Term

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Princess Haya opening the FEI Sports Forum.
Princess Haya opening the FEI Sports Forum.

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, April 28, 2014–The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) on Monday kicked off two days of meetings dealing with the infrastructure of horse sports but overshadowed by the headline event of an extraordinary session of the ultimate decision-making General Assemby that is expected to change the rules to give Princess Haya a chance at a third term as president.

The princess, who will turn 40 years of age next week, has not declared whether she will actually run for a third term when her second period of four years in office wraps up at the end of this year. She became president in 2006 after the first contested election in the history of the FEI and the first to be challenged for re-election in 2010 which she easily beat back.

She has repeatedly stated her belief that two terms should be the limit.

Since her re-election, her tenure has had to deal with controversy over doping and other allegations centered on the involvement in endurance and Thoroughbred racing of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. She is his fourth ranked wife in a country where polygamy is legal.

Criticism from a handful of the FEI’s 103 member nations and a threat by American endurance riders to pull out of the organization unless steps are taken to reform the discipline has led to creation by the FEI of a task force to look into changes.

Endurance is on the agenda immediately after the extraordinary General Assembly to change the charter.

In opening the annual sports forum, the princess said: “This is one of the most important meetings on the FEI calendar, because this is where we hear first-hand from the people who are most directly involved in running our sport,” she said. “We need your help to ensure that decisions made at the General Assembly are grounded in reality.

“This forum comes at an exciting time for our federation. The extremely successful London 2012 Olympic Games showed our sport at its best in an iconic venue before a massive global audience. We are building on that momentum with new sponsors and the excitement provided by a new generation of emerging equestrian superstars. With help from FEI Solidarity, our sport is developing in new regions.

“This is also a challenging time. We can never take our place on the Olympic Program for granted. We are continuing to seek new commercial partners to strengthen our financial foundation. And we must never rest in the ongoing effort to deter and detect the few who seek unfair advantage. Your work here will help us meet those challenges and make the most of the opportunities before us.”

The first day’s session focused on a Jumping Event Classification System; an Equine Surfaces White Paper, a study into the effect of arena surfaces on the orthopedic health of sport horses; a FEI program targeting sustainability of equestrian sports, and the FEI Online Entry System for events that was extended to dressage this year after initially launching with jumping and endurance.