The world governing body for horse sport says the recently announced suspension of the National Equestrian Federation of the United Arab Emirates will have many practical consequences for athletes, owners, trainers, officials and organizers beyond the country’s borders.
The FEI Board suspended the UAE’s national equestrian body after an investigation into the circumstances around two national endurance events (CENs) in January and February 2020 — the Sheikh Mohammed Cup and The President’s Cup.
Both should have been held as international endurance events (CEIs) as the number of foreign athletes far exceeded the quota permitted for national events, the FEI concluded.
The board believed the reason for re-classifying the events as CENs was to avoid the application of the new FEI Endurance Rules scheduled to take effect on January 1 this year.
It imposed a full suspension of the UAE national federation, covering all activities across all FEI disciplines, until the end of the year. It also suspended the federation’s activities in relation to endurance until March 31 next year.
Such suspensions will remain in place beyond the dates indicated above unless all fines imposed by the FEI Board have been paid in full by the suspension expiry date. These comprise a financial sanction on the organisers, requiring them to pay a percentage of the prize money – 50% for the Sheikh Mohammed Cup and 10% for The President’s Cup – as well as the organising dues that would have been payable to the FEI had the events been held as CEIs.
The FEI has now published a Q&A to clarify the practical consequences of the suspension. It can be read here, but, in summary:
Any equestrian events (including national events) organised in the UAE shall be considered unsanctioned during the suspension period. Any FEI athlete, horse or official taking part will be liable to a period of ineligibility of up to six months.
Event organisers in the UAE cannot hold any international events during the suspension. Nor can the UAE national federation enter any international events into the FEI calendar during the suspension.
If UAE organisers choose to stage national events during the suspension, any FEI-registered athletes, horses or officials taking part will, again, not be eligible to participate in any FEI events for up to six months under the FEI unsanctioned event rule.
The Q&A makes it clear that UAE athletes, officials and horses will not be allowed to participate in any national or international events worldwide during the suspension.
Also, UAE riders who compete in national events organised in the UAE during the suspension will not be eligible to compete in any FEI events for six months because they are unsanctioned events.
Dual nationality will not help any UAE athlete get around the requirements, as changes in sport nationality must be approved by the FEI. The UAE national federation would also have to confirm it had no objection to the change and it cannot do so while suspended.
The FEI will not allow UAE athletes to compete in international events under the FEI flag.
The FEI says all UAE horses are suspended during the suspension period, and their ownership cannot be changed until the suspension has lifted.
UAE horse owners also face restrictions. Their horses are not allowed to compete during the suspension and they are not allowed to change ownership to another federation. Nor can they lease their horses to a non-UAE rider during the suspension.
Those who would like to buy an FEI-registered horse that is currently owned by a UAE owner can do so, but the horse will not be eligible to compete in FEI Events during the suspension period because the ownership in the FEI Database cannot be changed during this period.
UAE endurance trainers cannot act as the trainer of any horse, regardless of whether it is owned by a UAE owner or not, while the suspension is in place. Non-UAE endurance trainers cannot take over the training of a UAE endurance horse from a UAE trainer during the suspension.
All UAE officials cannot continue to fill such roles during the suspension. If they participate in unsanctioned events in the UAE during the suspension, they will not be able to take part in any FEI events for up to six months.
Non-UAE officials who choose to be involved in unsanctioned events in the UAE during the suspension face the same stand-down period.
The FEI notes that the UAE national federation has the right to appeal its suspension to the FEI Tribunal and/or to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The suspensions imposed will remain in place during the appeals process unless the FEI Tribunal/CAS decide otherwise.