Belgium’s Ingmar De Vos Elected New FEI President

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New FEI President Ingmar De Vos
New FEI President Ingmar De Vos

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Dec. 14, 2014–Ingmar De Vos of Belgium was elected President of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) by an overwhelming majority in the first round of voting Sunday.

The 51-year-old Ingmar, Secretary General of the FEI since May 2011, was elected by 98 votes out of a possible 131. He took charge of the world governing body of equestrian sport immediately and appointed FEI Director of Governance and Executive Affairs Sabrina Zeender of Switzerland as interim secretary general.

The result was announced by Princess Haya, the outgoing president, with the declaration, “I am pleased to announce we have a new FEI President, Ingmar De Vos.” Her words were met with prolonged applause from close to 350 delegates representing 91 National Federations, stakeholders, sponsors and international media.

“I’m really very honored and overwhelmed by this enormous support,” a clearly emotional Ingmar said, “and I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your confidence. Baku will be in my memory forever.

“Elections are always difficult, as it splits a little bit the family, but I guarantee that I will be the president of all of you, I will serve all the members of our community and I will work very hard to keep this unity.”

He thanked outgoing President Princess Haya: “Words cannot explain what she has done for our organization. She has shown leadership, she has guided us through difficult waters, she has innovated us, she has modernized us. She has left us with a great legacy and I believe, together with many of you, that it is our responsibility to preserve the legacy and go on with the roadmap she has shown us. Words are not enough to thank her. Over the years we have become good friends, and I am thankful and grateful for your support. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Shortly after his election, Ingmar received a letter of congratulations from IOC President Thomas Bach.

“The IOC enjoys a long-standing relationship with FEI, its elected members and administration,” he said. “We are sure that FEI will continue its growth under your leadership. Your previous experience in different positions of the Equestrian sports will be invaluable for you in this new office. On behalf of the IOC and the entire Olympic Movement, I wish you every success in the new role you are undertaking.”

Ingmar was elected for a four-year term, and is eligible for re-election for up to three consecutive terms.

He is the first secretary general to become president. The secetary
general is a paid position but the presidency is not which has limited candidates for the position to those who have enough money to work for nothing.

The election was historic in that it marks the end of six decades of the top post being held by a member of a royal family.

The other candidates standing in this election were Pierre Durand of France, Pierre Genecand of Switzerland, John McEwen of Great Britain and Ulf Helgstrand of Denmark. Ulf Helgstrand withdrew his candidacy before the vote, and a sixth candidate, Javier Revuelta del Peral of Spain withdrew from the election process in November.

The voting tally:

Ingmar De Vos 98
Pierre Durand 21
Pierre Genecand 6
John McEwen 6

Ingmar De Vos holds degrees in political science, business administration and international and European law, and started his career as an advisor to the Belgian Senate. He joined the Belgian Equestrian Federation as managing director in 1990, and held the additional role of Secretary General from 1997 to 2011.

During his time at the Belgian National Federation, he was chef de mission for the Belgian Equestrian Team at all World Equestrian Games from 1990 to 2010 and at several Olympic Games. He was also Secretary General of the European Equestrian Federation from 2010, the year the organization was formed, until 2011, when he joined the FEI.

The FEI, founded in 1921, is the world governing body for dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, jumping, reining, vaulting and para dressage and para driving. In 2013, 3,557 FEI events were held around the world, a growth of more than 150 per cent since 2003.

The FEI celebrated 100 years of equestrian sport in the Olympic movement at the London 2012 Olympic Games.