FEI structure questioned in world survey

July 21, 2010

by Neil Clarkson

A survey of FEI member nations has pointed to discontent among national federations over recognition of regional differences and the world body's structure.

Henk Rottinghuis
The findings were contained in a survey of member nations and associate members conducted by Tree London on behalf of Dutch presidential candidate Henk Rottinghuis.

Rottinghuis is one of three people vying for the FEI presidency, which will be decided early in November at the General Assembly in Chinese Taipei.

He is standing against Swede Sven Holmberg and the incumbent, Princess Haya.

The survey commissioned by Rottinghuis, is part of his 100-day "Listening programme" to garner the views of all stakeholders in equestrian sport.

The online survey was sent to all 133 national federations and 14 associate members.

Tree London said 28 per cent of national federations and 64 per cent of associate members completed the survey.

It said responses were received from all 12 regional groups within the FEI, giving representative results in sufficient volumes to give the findings weight and significance.

Discontent was identified in the survey over the current FEI structure. Asked if the present FEI structure and organisation was fit for the demands the sport will face in the future, 15 disagreed, 7 agreed and 11 were neutral.

There was also dissatisfaction over regional differences. Asked if regional differences were adequately recogised to allow worldwide development of each particular discipline, 16 disagreed, 12 agreed, and 5 were neutral.

Asked whether commercial FEI activities were timely and discussed properly with national federations and stakeholders, 16 disagreed, 7 agreed and 10 were neutral.

Generally, the findings pointed to the FEI being out of touch with national federations' priorities and focuses.

However, the results were not all bad news for the FEI.

Progress and control of the future direction of disciplines was generally considered to be good, although strategy and decision-sharing was not seen as good enough, particularly among associate members.

The gap between developing and developed national federations was generally seen to have reduced, though a significant number of national federations disagreed.

Training and competition opportunities in developing nations were seen to be increasing.

The FEI got a tick for improving the understanding of the legitimacy of medication and doping issues.

However, it is clear views are divergent on the way forward in respect of doping rules.

One federation noted, in respect of the bid to end the zero-tolerance policy toward some anti-inflammatories: "The new rules that were postponed to the General Assembly in Taipei were both unclear and confusing, creating a very strong bad will for the FEI in our country."

However, another commented: "The principles of new rules concerning welfare are correct. Their implementation has not been as good. There exists a 'gotcha' mentality within the FEI. We need to spend more time educating. Much of the the new 'Clean Sport' initiative has been self-serving, with an eye on political correctness."