Fourth European enters race for FEI presidency

FEI first vice-president John McEwen: "The welfare of the horse is not just a veterinary issue; it’s an issue for all those who work in the sport." © FEI
John McEwen has been named as a presidential candidate by the British Equestrian Federation. He is currently serving as FEI first vice-president.  © FEI

A British contender, John McEwen, has entered the race for the FEI presidency – the fourth European to declare their bid for the role.

McEwen, who is currently first vice-president of the FEI, will seek the presidency when the incumbent, Princess Haya, steps down at the world governing body’s General Assembly in Baku, Azerbaijan, in mid-December. She has held the position for eight years.

Three other candidates have declared their interest in the role so far. They are Pierre Durand, 59, nominated by the French Equestrian Federation; Ulf Helgstrand, 63, nominated by the Danish Equestrian Federation, and Swiss nominee Pierre Genecand, 64.

Helgstrand and Durand announced their candidacies last week. Genecand declared his candidacy in April.

The FEI has imposed a September 1 deadline for nominations for the presidency, each of which must have the backing of their national federation.

McEwen, as well as serving as first vice-president in support of Princess Haya since 2000, has been the FEI’s Veterinary Committee chairman for the last eight years.

During this time he has also served as the British Equestrian Federation’s World Class Performance Programme’s director for equine sports science and medicine.

British Equestrian Federation president and chairman Keith Taylor said: “We were geared to support HRH Princess Haya in her campaign to run for another four years.

“Her withdrawal from the race a couple of weeks before nominations closed has caused us to move quickly. But, we took no time in citing John McEwen for our nomination.

“He is hugely experienced and electable. He knows the FEI inside out and he knows what needs to be done to build on Princess Haya’s outstanding legacy.

“He is very well respected throughout the international community as a man of integrity. We support him fully.”

McEwen said he was delighted to play his part in supporting the FEI and Princess Haya.

“I have no illusions about the challenges for this election and the work that needs to be undertaken in the future.

“I run because I know I have the confidence and support of my own federation and because I am committed to the direction our current president has forged.

“There is clearly more work to do, but we have good people in place and a sound executive team led well by its secretary general, Ingmar De Vos. If elected, I will seek to run a steady course and a period of further evolution.”

The British federation, which released a statement announcing McEwen’s candidacy, said he was well versed in both the sporting and commercial decisions of the FEI, having been at the “sharp end” of the organisation’s work over a time of expansion, including its “clean sport” campaign and a period of unsurpassed sponsorship acquisition.

It said McEwen was known for his diplomacy, his integrity, modesty, and strong sense of fair play.

“John is very well connected within the sport,” the federation said.

 Earlier report on presidential nominations here.

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