The Saudi Equestrian Fund created by King Abdullah is to stump up for the 2012 FEI Nations Cup jumping series, and will also be title sponsor for five years from 2013.
FEI President Princess Haya made the announcement yesterday at the opening of the FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne in Switzerland.
The move will finance the revitalisation of the FEI Nations Cup series, and the announcement was greeted with spontaneous applause from the 250 delegates attending the Sports Forum.
The Saudi Equestrian Fund was created by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz by royal decree in November 2009 to give the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia a lasting legacy in equestrianism through sport and cultural events.
“We believe this is a fantastic opportunity to preserve one of the flagship events and heritage of the FEI”, said HH Prince Faisal Bin Abdullah Al Saud, Chairman of the Saudi Equestrian Board of Trustees.
“We want to be part of the process that will enhance the Nations Cup concept, and help it become a truly global, contemporary product. The objective is to make the Nations Cup universal, fresh and exciting.”
Ziyad Abduljawad, Managing Director of the Saudi Equestrian Fund said supporting the Nations Cup series fitted perfectly with its mission to improve and promote the growth of equestrian sport inside and outside Saudi Arabia.
“The Nations Cup should be the pinnacle of equestrian sport. National pride and competing for your nation provide an extra dimension that drives the individual to produce peak performance. We believe in the power of the Nations Cup to bring the best of equestrian sport to the world.”
Referring to the historic agreement in her opening speech at the Sports Forum, FEI President HRH Princess Haya said: “We want to express our very special gratitude and thanks to the Saudi Equestrian Fund, and particularly to HH Prince Faisal Bin Abdullah, for this wonderful support of the Nations Cup series and its future, and for what they are doing for our sport. They are truly visionary.”
Organisers of the eight FEI Nations Cup Top League events were informed at a meeting with the FEI in Geneva last December that a funding solution had been found for the series, but no details of the agreement were released at that time. The FEI has been in ongoing discussions with the Saudi Equestrian Fund to formalise the agreement since then, resulting in yesterday’s announcement.
The Saudi Equestrian Fund will be part of discussions with the FEI on prize money, branding and revitalisation of the series, with the twin goals of improving the overall prize money for each event and the overall level of competition. As part of the restructuring of the series, the concept will be debated at this week’s Sports Forum, and the FEI will also create a dedicated E-platform to facilitate a transparent and open process, allowing stakeholders further opportunities to voice their opinions, and provide feedback and follow-up.
The Saudi Equestrian Fund is keen to facilitate the change and has expressed the wish that the outcome of the renovation process is a concept that is supported by all parties. The Fund will provide financial support in order to ensure the continuity of the 2012 series during the transition to the new concept which will be launched in 2013.
The Board of Trustees of the Saudi Equestrian Fund is also supporting a major exhibition in the British Museum in London entitled The Horse: from Arabia to Royal Ascot. The exhibition, which runs from 24 May to 30 September, charts the history of the horse, from ancient civilisation to modern day sporting events and includes important loans from the British Library, Fitzwilliam Museum and the Royal Armouries, as well as rare material from Saudi Arabia.
The FEI Nations Cup is the oldest of the FEI series and the team competition has existed for over a century. It was in 1964 that the Nations Cup became a series when a ranking was established. Since then it has gone through several transformations, run as the President’s Cup, the Prince Philip Trophy, and more recently as the Super League. In recent years there has been an awareness that the concept was in need of a major review and the restructuring process is seen as key to ensuring the future of the series.
The FEI Nations Cup Top League is currently run at eight selected European venues, but the concept will be debated at the Sports Forum in Lausanne and, following further consultation, proposed changes to the format will be voted on at the General Assembly in Istanbul (Turkey) in November.