It seems that the other shoe has dropped in the ongoing conflict between the Global Champions League and the FEI.
The FEI has suspended two of its officials, international judge Rogier Van Iersal and course designer Rob Jansen, who officiated over the first two stages of the unsanctioned Global Champions League in Miami (April 10) and Mexico City (April 17th).
However, it’s safe to say that this decision comes as no surprise to both the officials, and the Global Champions League, which is operated by and within the Longines Global Champions Tour. In December 2015, the FEI sent out a letter to all officials outlining their position on FEI officials participating in GCL events. Article 156.8 of the FEI General Regulations states that FEI officials may not officiate at unsanctioned events, and doing so will result in a six month suspension from officiating over FEI sanctioned events.
An FEI spokesperson stated that:
“FEI Officials were informed in December that they would not be authorised to officiate in any capacity at any GCL events, which have not been sanctioned/approved by the FEI. However, it was made clear in the same communication, that they would be eligible to officiate at the Global Champions Tour, which is an FEI sanctioned event.
The FEI has applied its rules relating to unsanctioned events and can confirm that the two officials are ineligible. FEI Officials will not be authorised to officiate in any capacity at FEI and National events for a period of six months.”
At Miami, GCL co-founder Jan Tops confirmed that Jansen will design the tracks for all GCL events this season.
“I knew Rob from Holland, he’s also Dutch, he built many big shows, also five stars,” Tops said. “He’s known as a good course builder and he will build the league this year.”
Show organizers were careful in assigning different officials to the sanctioned events versus the unsanctioned GCL; for example, course designer Uliano Vezzani works at most stages of the LGCT, but he is not associated with the course building for the GCL classes, which so far have been held on the Sunday of the LGCT stage.
Respectively, during his decades-long involvement in the sport, international judge Van Iersal previously worked as team manager for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during their successful 2012 bid at the London Olympics.
Last fall, when NoelleFloyd.com spoke exclusively with FEI President Ingmar De Vos, it was made clear that the FEI intended to continue to pursue its objection to the GCL. An ongoing case with the Belgian Competition Authority, in which the GCL accused the FEI of violating European Union competition law, has so far leant in the GCL’s favor. However, while the FEI has complied with the BCA’s ruling that horses and riders competing in the GCL will not be suspended or sanctioned, the organization continues to appeal the ruling and wait for a final decision on the case.
Both Van Iersal and Jansen expressed their support for the GCL in this joint statement, published on WorldofShowJumping.com:
“We feel that what Jan has developed with GCT for more than 10 years has been great for the development of showjumping. The concept of the Global Champions League is another dimension and the first two events have proven what we thought, that it will be good for showjumping. We wanted to support this initiative and if you saw the atmosphere in Miami and Mexico it has immediately proven itself to be the positive new dimension we expected. Secondly, we don’t understand at all that riders and horses are allowed to compete and that officials are being used to try to block it, which we feel is totally ridiculous for a number of reasons, including horse welfare. The precautions for horse welfare at GCT and GCL events are far and above requirements.
It is a transparent format and people understand it immediately. We saw in Mexico, where there has not been this level of showjumping for many years, and people were very enthusiastic and understood it. We are really pleased we can support the development of this and we are really positive and pleased to help.
We have been fully transparent towards the FEI and informed them openly that we would support the League and its development. We requested a waiver according to the rules to allow us to do this. The waiver was at first denied and the decision was appealed and is still ongoing.”