Princess Haya decides against seeking third presidential term

FEI President Princess Haya, opensthe 2014 FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne, Switzerland. © FEI/Germain Arias-Schreiber
FEI President Princess Haya, opens the 2014 FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne, Switzerland. © FEI/Germain Arias-Schreiber

Princess Haya has decided against seeking a third term as FEI president.

She will step down at the General Assembly in Baku, Azerbaijan, early in December, after eight years in the role.

Her decision will surprise many national federations, which overwhelmingly backed a statute change late in April in Switzerland, opening the door for the princess to seek re-election for another four years.

In a statement, the princess expressed her gratitude for the support shown by national federations, including the statute change.

“Although I had always planned to leave office after this term, my resolve was weakened at the FEI General Assembly in 2013 when I was presented with a petition signed by 100 national federations calling for an Extraordinary General Assembly (EGA) to change the FEI statutes,” she said.

“I gave more thought to the possibility of a third term when the EGA voted to change the statutes to permit it.

“This demonstration of support was a humbling and truly huge moment in my life.

“And, as I weighed the possibilities in reaching this difficult decision, the gratitude and loyalty I felt to those who had been so faithful to me was paramount among the countless reasons compelling me to consider a third term.”

Princess Haya said she would have loved to have continued to build on progress made in the last eight years, saying it would have been “beyond exciting” for her.

“Having said all that, the factors that have led to my decision not to seek a third term are, for me, impossible to ignore.

“I committed to a term limit, and that commitment still weighs heavily on me. However, most importantly, as I said in the EGA, I needed to see if a third term would work with my family.

FEI president Princess Haya at the final conference of the CSIO Barcelona.
FEI president Princess Haya.

“As always, I continue to have the support of my family, and yet, I am painfully aware that their support for me comes at a cost for them.

“Fate took my own mother away from me when I was three years of age,” she said in reference to the 1977 helicopter crash that claimed the life of Queen Alia al-Hussein.

“That experience greatly influences my efforts to strike the right work-life balance with my own two young children. I have always managed this balance in the past, but recent events have made me question my ability to do so.

“The situation in my region is turbulent and desperate at the moment.

“You will understand that these are also my people and my family, so recently much of the work that I have balanced with my FEI presidency in the past has begun to make itself a first priority.

“In the last weeks, I have needed to put aside some of my work for the FEI to concentrate on humanitarian relief to Gaza and other work in that sector. And I feel that this is just the beginning.

“To fulfill my commitments to humanitarian work and to raise my children with the time to love them seems truly overwhelming; it is clear to me that I cannot in good faith promise to give my all in each of these areas while also continuing to be the hands-on president that the FEI needs and deserves.

“After agonising over these conflicting worries and desires, I realise that my decision cannot be put off any longer. For the good of the FEI and most of all, our community, this decision had to be reached in good time to allow the many excellent candidates to come forward.

“I have no doubt that the future of the FEI is solid. I am very proud of the many things we were able to achieve together during my time in office. I look forward to an election campaign focused on ideas for further improvements.

“I will now be in a position to focus totally on serving the FEI until my last minute in office and to leaving the house in the best order for my successor.”

In a letter that went out to national federations shortly before the release of her statement, she began: “No letter has ever been harder for me to write than this one.”

Princess Haya laid out the reasons for her decision in similar terms, and concluded: “I am terribly sorry if you feel that I am letting you down. I remain deeply honored to have had this position for eight years, and I hope you will understand my decision.”


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