Steve Guerdat at the 2017 FEI Sports Forum. Ph ©FEI
Overwhelming for the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping series was the key takeaway from the opening session at the first day of FEI Sports Forum on Monday, April 10, 2017 in the Olympic capital of Lausanne, Switzerland. The global equestrian community came together for the two-day meeting, with Jumping as the first-day focus.
Almost 330 delegates filled the main auditorium at the International Institute for Management Development to join in the opening debate on the oldest series of its kind in the world, where national teams compete head to head. This year the series – which was created in 1909 – has a record 50 nations competing at events in 19 countries en route to the global Final in Barcelona, Spain, 28 September – 1 October.
FEI President Ingmar De Vos kicked off the session highlighting the special place the series has in the hearts of equestrian athletes and fans the world over: “The FEI Nations Cup Jumping is such an important part of our DNA, and I believe that the FEI has already proven on many occasions that the Nations Cup is priority number one.”
Panellist Steve Guerdat, the London 2012 Olympic champion, also underlined the importance of this prestigious series: “It’s probably the most important class that as an athlete we can take part in. There’s a lot of pride for every rider to be able to ride for your country. It’s not just about you, it’s about your country.”
David Sim, Group Broadcast & Strategy Director at CSM Sport & Entertainment, explained the value of the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping: “The stories brands want to tell to their audiences is that they are looking at the ones to watch, the stars of tomorrow, and how riders can grow and reach the next level. You need stardust, but it’s also about selling a long term view of the future of the sport. The strengths of the Nations Cup are tradition, heritage, a very affluent and engaged audience, men and women competing together, they are all very appealing to brands.”
“We hear that it’s too long, but I don’t get it. Football is 90 minutes, and 89 minutes of it is boring! Two rounds is what makes the Nations Cup so special,” said Guerdat.
The session, one of five on today’s agenda, generated healthy and very positive debate as panellists and delegates reviewed the current competition format, the number of qualifiers for the series, prize money, ranking points, the concentration of qualifiers in Europe and around the world, and the issues of cross-border transportation affecting some regions.
Entry Fee Harmonization Struck Down
The afternoon’s key session on CSI/CSIO requirements generated solid debate, outlining the most significant differences across the regions. The session also addressed the proposal put forward by the Alliance of Jumping Organisers (AJO) for a global approach to harmonize entry fees, with widespread consensus that this would not be feasible due to the economic differences around the world.
John Madden, FEI 1st Vice President and Chair FEI Jumping Committee, led the discussions and emphasized that the CSI requirements are in place to protect athletes from excessive costs, ensuring a healthy sustainable sport that is open to all.
Ultimately it was agreed that minimum standards should be set, that excellence should be rewarded, and that increased entry fees would not work in Europe.
Delegates also joined in interactive sessions on the new CSI invitation system, potential changes in the dress code for Jumping and youth development in the sport.
“The Sports Forum is unique in the world of international sports federations and we are truly proud that the FEI is the only International Federation that offers an annual open platform for its community to actively participate in and contribute to important discussions in a transparent manner which can lead to proposals that could be presented to the General Assembly,” De Vos said in his keynote address at the beginning of the day. “This is true good governance and our organisation has been praised for this on many occasions.
“Many matters that we discuss and situations that we have to address are a result of the success of our sport and we should be proud of that success. This growth also represents big opportunities for the equine industry and whereas our sport can count on a fast growing interest in certain regions, other regions can also benefit from this as they are a privileged partner to support this development within their industry.”
Based on the discussions at the Sports Forum, the FEI Technical Committees will decide what will be brought forward, or not, as more detailed proposals to be shared with the community for further feedback. Following input from the National Federations and stakeholders, the proposals will then be further adapted and finalized as proposed rules for approval at the FEI General Assembly, with a further opportunity for feedback at the rules session prior to the vote in Montevideo (URU) in November.
The Sports Forum is being livestreamed by the FEI and all sessions are available to view here.