FEI’s decision to harmonize entry fees could be ‘end of showjumping’

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Showjumpers are going head-to-head with the FEI over its decision to harmonize entry fees, which could see their sport costing thousands of euros.

Elite pursuit

Under the current system there are two models of entry fee: The European model, where entry frees are fixed and the American system where fees are based on a percentage of prize money.

This controversial ruling could see entry fees increase up to three times, which would make what is already a very expensive sport into a pursuit for the elite.

According to Olympic gold medallist Steve Guerdat, riders currently pay around €400 entry for a two-star event and this could increase to €1200, if the FEI decides to harmonize entry fees. It would cost even more to enter a three or four-star competition.

‘Ashamed of my sport’

Steve is one of many riders who has joined the Facebook group ‪#‎notoharmonizing.

“I’m not afraid to say for the first time I’m ashamed of my sport, because I think that sport should be about talent and not about money,” said Steve. “The majority of riders in Europe will not be able to keep on going. It could be the end of the sport.”

The proposed ruling will be discussed at the FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne, Switzerland on 10 April. However, they face strong opposition from the European Equestrian Federation (EEF), who called for an urgent meeting this week (14 March) in the Swiss capital of Bern.

‘Lose credibility’

The EEF is demanding fees stay fixed in Europe to “enable every rider to have a reasonable chance to pursue its goal as top athlete”.

“In Europe, the lower level competitions are an important ladder for young riders to start collecting ranking points and prove themselves for their National Federations as serious candidates for representing their country,” an EEF spokesperson said. “Very few of these young riders, breeders or professional traders have such a wealthy background as the new FEI’s proposition requires.”

“If we move at all fronts towards the image of a super expensive sport, available only for few, we will soon lose our credibility as a serious sport and there is a clear danger that the sport cannot grow and the breeding and trading will dry up.”