The careers of FEI officials and Olympic discipline competition format were the two main points of discussion at the fifth edition of the FEI sports forum, held this week in Lausanne, Switzerland.
On Monday, 320 delegates debated ways to measure quality of officiating and whether there should be an age limit on FEI Officials. Also discussed was education and training as keys to development of the sport. At particular issue were the less developed nations and non-Olympic disciplines, which lack the resources for development and education of officials.
“These athletes deserve well educated officials too,” said Maarten van der Heijden, secretary general of the Royal Dutch Equestrian Federation.
FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez promised a task force would be created to look at development and education of officials.
On Tuesday, the focus turned to Olympic discipline competition format. There was substantial support for reducing teams to three members to allow more nations an opportunity to compete at the Olympics and World Equestrian Games.
There was general consensus that bringing more nations to the Olympic Games is important for increasing public interest in equestrian sport. The final session of the forum focused specifically on revisions of the Eventing rules. Proposals included new minimum entry requirements to open up big events to new nations, new competition formats, an updated scoring system and talks about how to explain the discipline to the public.
Olympic Press Committee member Alan Abrahamson noted equestrian sports will have to attract a younger and more global fan base by leveraging opportunities in new media.
“There are tons of new sports trying to knock on the Olympic door. Skateboarding, surfing and rock climbing are almost guaranteed to be on the Olympic programme for Tokyo because they are perceived as cool and sexy sports. You know you’ve got a great sport. You have that core audience, what you need are more and younger fans,” he said.