Expert Commentary: The Role of Europe in Global Equestrian Governance
06.04.2017 - by Armagan Özgörkey, EEF Vice-President
The FEI Sports Forum is only a few days away now. Similar to previous years when important topics such as the Olympic Games were on the agenda also this year’s Forum will initiate very important discussions for our sport, with a discipline focus on Jumping but also sessions related to Officials, Dressage Judging, Eventing risk management and Endurance.
The role of Europe is becoming increasingly important in the debates but at the same time it is also becoming more difficult. On one hand there is the strong dominance of equestrian sport in Europe where around 80% of the sport takes place in terms of number of athletes, horses, events, breeding, etc for both top sport on international level but also amateur sport on a broad national level. This also means that all FEI decisions have the strongest impact on Europe even when Europe is underrepresented with votes in the FEI General Assembly due to the one-country-one-vote system.
It is thus understandable that the European stakeholders want to gain more influence on sports relevant decisions and apply more pressure on us, the EEF, to stand up for their interest on a global level. The best example occurred only recently when a decision was taken that had severe consequences for the FEI Nations Cup Jumping and created anger among European stakeholders.
It is, however, also the role of Europe to help the rest of the world to further develop equestrian sport in their own regions so that the gap between us doesn’t become bigger but smaller. Above all we must never forget that even within Europe there are very big differences between the different regions which we aim to reduce. We as the EEF have to ensure that countries which were not able to steadily develop equestrian sport for various reasons (i.e. political or economic reasons, geographic location, etc) but have potential and motivation are guided by us and mentored within our equestrian family.
The tasks are big, not only for the EEF, and the FEI Sports Forum can certainly contribute to a better future for equestrian sport. Discussions and debates with an opposition are normal and can be very healthy. Diplomacy is essential but we also know that it is not always a natural skill of sports representatives!