Sporting women gaining in prominence and power

Lisa F. Lazarus.
Lisa Lazarus. © Hugues Siegenthaler / FEI

Hot on the heels of a 23% increase in female representation on International Olympic Committee (IOC) commissions, the impact of equestrian women in the sporting world is being highlighted at this week’s SportAccord Convention in Belek, Turkey. 

FEI Chief of Business Development and Strategy Lisa Lazarus is addressing the convention today on the topic of women in sport.

SportAccord Convention is a six-day annual gathering of more than 2500 leading representatives from international sport. It encompasses the Congress and General Assemblies of three associations whose members consist of 108 International Sports Federations and Associate Members.

It has the full support of the IOC, which organises the IOC Executive Board spring meeting at each Convention.

Lazarus features on the first panel in today’s session, “A Women’s World, the journey towards sporting equality”, alongside several high-profile women involved in sports.

Moderated by Canada’s Charmaine Crooks, a five-time Olympian and recipient of the 2006 IOC Women in Sport Trophy, the panel will debate sporting equality on the field of play, in the media, in sponsorship spend, and on the boards of national and international sports governing bodies.

Lazarus pointed out that equestrian is one of the few sports that can boast gender equality on the field of play, with male and female athletes competing against each other and sharing the same podium.

“One great example of our top female athletes is American jumping rider Beezie Madden, who will be heading to the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final in Lyon, France next week to defend her title.

“Last year Beezie Madden became the fifth woman to claim the FEI World Cup trophy in the world’s oldest individual jumping series, and is currently the highest ranked female athlete in the Longines Rankings, the world rankings for jumping riders, having consistently held a top-five place for almost a year.”

She said the FEI is also one of sport’s International Federations with a history of strong female Presidents.

“HRH Princess Haya, the third consecutive female FEI President, was appointed in 2006 following the FEI’s first contested election. The former Olympian is a UN Messenger of Peace and IOC member and is currently on three IOC commissions – Women and Sport, Entourage, and Marketing.

“HRH Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, FEI President from 1986 to 1994 and now honorary FEI Vice President, was announced last week as President of the IOC Nominations Commission. HRH The Infanta Doña Pilar de Borbón (Spain) succeeded The Princess Royal as FEI President, and remained in the role for eight years until 2006 when HRH Princess Haya was elected. In 1996, Doña Pilar was the first FEI President to become an IOC member.”

She also noted that  the FEI was the first international federation to field the first female athlete from Saudi Arabia at Olympic level when Dalma Rushdi Malhas won individual bronze at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in the Jumping.

“And it is a matter of great pride for us that the first female IOC member, in 1981, was Flor Isava Fonseca, member of the Venezuelan Jumping team at the 1956 Olympic Games and founder and first president of the Venezuelan Equestrian Federation,” Lazarus said.

Dalma Rushdi Malhas
Dalma Rushdi Malhas, the first female athlete from Saudi Arabia at Olympic level.

The general theme of this year’s SportAccord Convention conference programme is Sport’s New Frontier. Topics such as creating better sporting equality; integrity, and what today’s youth really think about sport, will be debated during the two conference days.

In her role as Chief of Business Development & Strategy for the FEI, Lazarus overseee all of the commercial activities of the FEI, including media, sponsorship, and licensing and merchandising. She also advises the CEO on strategic matters relating to the growth of equestrian sport globally.

Lazarus was the FEI’s General Counsel from May 2009 to August 2013. In that role, she was responsible for all of the legal activities of the FEI, including commercial negotiations, equine and human anti-doping programmes, regulatory matters, and all cases before the FEI Tribunal and the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Lazarus was also responsible for all legal matters on behalf of the FEI in the lead up to and during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Before joining the FEI, Lazarus worked for the National Football League for 10 years based in New York and then London, most recently as Senior Director of Partner Development for NFL International.

The 2014 SportAccord Convention runs from April 6 to 11 in Belek/Antalya.


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