FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos has today been elected president of the world governing body, winning a solid majority in the first round of voting.
De Vos, the Belgium nominee for the position being vacated by Princess Haya after eight years, gathered the two-thirds majority required under the FEI constitution to be elected in the first ballot.
The results of the electronic poll showed that 98 federations voted for him. French nominee Pierre Durand received 21 votes, Swiss nominee Pierre Genecand received six votes, and British nominee John McEwen collected six votes.
Danish candidate Ulf Helgstrand formally withdrew his nomination before voting.
The result was announced by Princess Haya, with the simple words, “I am pleased to announce we have a new FEI President, Ingmar De Vos”. Her words were met with prolonged applause from close to 350 delegates representing 91 National Federations, stakeholders, sponsors and international media.
The FEI Bureau is expected to move with some urgency to appoint an interim secretary general to replace De Vos while the recruitment process to find a permanent replacement is undertaken.
De Vos told delegates he was overwhelmed by the extent of support revealed by the vote.
“From the bottom of my heart I thank you for your support and confidence,” he told those gathered for the FEI General Assembly in Baku, Azerbaijan.
“I’m really very honoured and overwhelmed by this enormous support,” a clearly emotional De Vos said, “and I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your confidence. Baku will be in my memory forever.
“Elections are always difficult, as it splits a little bit the family, but I guarantee that I will be the president of all of you, I will serve all the members of our community and I will work very hard to keep this unity.”
He thanked his fellow candidates, commenting on the quality of debate generated by the campaign.
De Vos pledged to work for unity and assured federations that he would work hard for all of them.
He went on to thank his great friend and mentor Jacky Buchmann, who has recently been re-elected as President of the Belgian Equestrian Federation. And finally, with great emotion, he thanked outgoing President Princess Haya.
De Vos said he had hoped until a couple of months ago that Princess Haya would choose to stay on in the role, but it was not to be.
“Words are not enough,” he said. “Words cannot explain what she has done for our organisation.
“She has shown leadership; guided us through difficult waters.
“She has left us with a great legacy. It is our responsibility to preserve this legacy and to go along the road … she has shown us. We have become good friends. Thank you again.”
De Vos, early in the afternoon session, proposed American John Madden as his first vice-president and Sheik Khalid Bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, who is group VII chairman, as second vice-president. He also proposed that Sabrina Zeender, who is currently serving as the FEI’s director of governance and executive affairs, as interim secretary general.
Shortly after his election, De Vos received a letter of congratulations from IOC President Thomas Bach. “Please accept my congratulations on your election as President of the International Equestrian Federation. The IOC enjoys a long-standing relationship with FEI, its elected members and administration. We are sure that FEI will continue its growth under your leadership. Your previous experience in different positions of the Equestrian sports will be invaluable for you in this new office. On behalf of the IOC and the entire Olympic Movement, I wish you every success in the new role you are undertaking.”
De Vos takes over the reins as FEI President at the conclusion of today’s FEI General Assembly for a four-year term, and is eligible for re-election for up to three consecutive terms. He has stated that he will resign as Secretary General as soon as he takes over the Presidency this afternoon and will appoint an interim Secretary General to take over the role until a permanent replacement is found.
De Vos, 51, holds degrees in political science, business administration and international and European law and started his career as an adviser to the Belgian Senate.
He joined the Belgian Equestrian Federation as managing director in 1990, and held the additional role of secretary general from 1997 to 2011. He was secretary general of the European Equestrian Federation from 2010, the year the organisation was formed, until 2011.
During his time at the Belgian National Federation, De Vos was chef de mission for the Belgian equestrian team at all FEI World Equestrian Games from 1990 to 2010 and at several Olympic Games.
De Vos has been FEI secretary general since May 2011.