Summary of the FEI General Assembly 2022

15. Nov 2022 / Category: News

From the 10-13 November the FEI held its annual General Assembly in Cape Town, South Africa, with the EEF President Theo Ploegmakers and the board in attendance.

The overriding theme of the weekend was that of social licence, and the importance for all stakeholders to understand the pressing needs for our sport to adapt and monitor the opinions of those around us. In his opening speech, FEI President Ingmar de Vos stated, “There can be no complacency or reticence to change, to keep things as they are. Because the world is changing, the sporting, media and sponsorship landscapes are changing. And as a result, the way we present and manage our sports also have to change “

On Friday 11 the EEF held a hybrid meeting with the FEI board, as all regional groups and continental federations may do so. The purpose of such meetings is to exchange views of common interest, discuss items related to the meeting between the Board and the respective Regional Group, discuss items on the FEI General Assembly agenda and promote and coordinate the activities of equestrian sport within the Group. The EEF agenda included proposals for the FEI Board to include youth representatives for each discipline, which has been taken as an action for the EEF to investigate and action before bringing forward a full proposal to the FEI.

There then followed discussions on the proposed rule revisions based on feedback from the EEF member federations. In particular, the FEI´s calendar management with a new mechanism of deposit payments, aiming at a higher reliability of the planning, was broadly discussed, as well as the per diems of officials and rules for the Olympic Games of Paris 2024. FEI President Ingmar de Vos addressed the meeting, noting “the relationship between the FEI and EEF is very good. We have had some very good meetings to clarify some matters which is always important. In addition, we have the willingness for good cooperation with the EEF” and emphasised the continued support the FEI provides to the EEF and the opportunities for the future.  

The afternoon focused heavily on the sports social licence to operate with a presentation from the FEI Equine Ethics and Wellbeing Commission, of which EEF President Theo Ploegmakers is a member, which gave way to animated but constructive discussion. There was also an introduction to the International Grooms Association.

Theo Ploegmakers said “We have had a productive and constructive dialogue with the FEI. The concerns around some of the rule changes were listened to and clarified, and we had a strong open conversation regarding the social licence to operate which I am pleased, as a topic, has been so powerfully communicated throughout this weekend.”

During the core meeting, the FEI provided presentations from World Horse Welfare, who are actively involved in social licence research and solutions, with their president Roly Owers stating “The idea behind social licence is that we must be transparent, ethical and accountable for what we do. We must do right by our horses – and be seen to be doing so. If we are not, we risk losing our social licence and face dwindling support, and potential intervention by outside regulation.”

Additionally, the newly formed FEI Equine Ethics and Welfare Commission also spoke of their mission, with commission chair Professor Dr Natalie Waran explaining, “As the Commission, we will be blunt, we will be direct and we will tell you the truth. But in the end, we will be here with you. There is change that needs to happen and we are here to develop a strategy, provide objective advice, make recommendations, and then see how these recommendations can be put into operation.” The commission's first task was to carry out research into the current views of stakeholders and the wider public with the full results available to view here. The major outcomes from the GA saw the re-election of Ingmar de Vos for a third and final term as president, the discipline updates and rule change implementations (full details available here), and committee selections.

From Europe, Marjukka Manninen (FIN) was elected to the FEI solidarity committee, while Bettina Hoy (GER) will join the Athletes and Eventing Committee and Jenny Hall (GBR) was re-elected as the chair of the veterinary committee. In addition, Jessica Kürten (IRL) has been appointed the chair of the athlete's committee. The re-election of EEF President Theo Ploegmakers was officially approved, as was the appointment of Quentin Simonet as Group Deputy Chair. Meanwhile, Maria Gretzer (SWE) received honours as she stepped down following her tenure as chair of the athletes committee.

A full report and related documents from the GA are available on the FEI website here.