Following the sportsforum last week in Lausanne, Stephan Conter, CEO of Stephex and event director of the Brussels Stephex Masters and Knokke Hippique, has written an open letter to the FEI President, Mr. Ingmar De Vos.
Conter addresses some issues that were a heated discussion in last weeks forum.
“In consequence of your recent decisions and those of the FEI, I had wished to attend on this April 10th to the works and forum organized by the FEI on the occasion of the “FEI Sport Forum 2017” in Lausanne. Indeed, regarding the important and profound modifications that these decisions entail and the major perturbations for the riders, the show organizers, the federations and more largely to the entire community of equine show jumping, it seemed important to meet, to listen and to react in order to make my voice, our voice, heard. This voice is the one of an actor on the ground, someone who thrives everyday to develop equestrian sport at various levels, to make it live, grow and shine with a triple ambition: quality without concession, accessibility and freedom to create, to be entrepreneur. These three inseparable aspects seem to me to be the vital core engine of the chance to guarantee a free choice of actors, a diversification of offers and the free expression of entrepreneurship that ensures diversity and quality.
It has now been weeks that I’ve been receiving invitations and incentives to speak up or act. I first wanted to take a step back as well as a few initiatives in order to collect points of views from others and finally to analyse the current situation. It seems to me that now is the time to share with you, Mr. President, my opinion, my point, my fears and my vision. I am not the official spokesperson of a lobby of any kind, nor the one of any federation or whatever else but looking at the daily amount of contacts and messages I get, I believe my position to be widely established within the community of equestrian show jumping, the community of the riders who do a remarkable yet very hard job with heart and ambition as well as the one of the organisers who try to develop projects aiming at promoting in a balanced way self progression, sport, show, quality and visibility of our sport.
This community I’m talking about, on a large scale, is feeling rather shocked, worried, destabilized and not respected by unclear rules and the fact they are going in various directions at a various pace. The FEI, during the session dedicated to CSI/CSIO requirements / paycards 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.
Let me refer to the questions asked by Mr. Henk Nooren to John Madden that were left dangling without a proper answer. An example of pure political silence coming from a communication strategy of a very distant age.
A few minutes thus of questions and answers concluded by unilateral conclusion claiming an overall and general agreement on the new rules; an agreement apparently obtained over a wide majority of concerned people, federations. Let me, Mr President, express my doubts about this conclusion. In fact, on the one hand, federations were asked to position themselves regarding a large global package of various topics. The new rules were only a mere part of the topics and were approached by only one angle : the one of general principles without questioning the concrete and practical modalities and their negative consequences.
It was a take it or leave it deal. The new rules couldn’t be the object of a separate vote. On the other hand, if true majority there was, to support the new rules, this majority was
obviously built by federations that represent, with all due respect, countries that are miles away from our actual sport and that don’t truly represent or reflect the reality of our sport
and who won’t be able to reach our level before ten or even twenty years. These countries, far from our sport but who still accumulate 80% of voting right validated decisions that don’t impact them or very lightly maybe but heavily affect others. Others that truly build our sport. Then, whether we like it or not, one must attest that the great majority of horses and riders who are FEI registered are European or have a European origin.
The equestrian industry is also present in majority. Sadly, no special position was given to this engine role Europe has. It was your responsibility Mr. President, to make sure those
decisions would be discussed, debated, prepared and finally taken, keeping into account this parameter…
Read the rest of the letter here: Open-letter-from-Stephan-Conter-to-The-President-of-the-FEI—18.04.2017