Foreword by the FEI President
Ingmar De Vos
Welcome to the FEI Annual Report 2015. I am delighted to have the opportunity to introduce some of the highlights of the year and the many activities and innovations that took place both on and off the field. As you will ion our dedicated online Annual Report, the sport continued to thrive and we as a community continued to innovate, communicate and build on our shared values and aspirations for the future. I am also very pleased to say that for the second consecutive year a new member Federation joined us with Bosnia Herzegovina sworn in at the FEI General Assembly 2015, taking our member count to 134 National Federations.
Once again, we had a very busy year. Even though 2015 sits between the FEI World Equestrian Games™ and the Olympic & Paralympic Games, there was surprisingly a lot going on!
The sport was fantastic with more nations competing at the Pan American and South East Asian Games than ever before and we also saw an important increase in the quality of the competition. The European Championships held throughout the summer were really top class with Aachen successfully playing host to 5 European Championships and Blair Castle welcoming not only Europe's best Eventers, but also Her Majesty the Queen. These were all great achievements for our sport.
The Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final in Barcelona was also a tremendous success and indicative of the engagement of fans and the greater equestrian community when it comes to the nation vs nation format in a series with a star studded and global final.
2015 also saw the first FEI World Vaulting Championships for Juniors staged at Ermelo in The Netherlands where a massive entry of 56 vaulters from 21 nations drew large crowds and generated lots of engagement from the fans. Youth was also at the forefront of the FEI World Endurance Championship for Young Riders and Juniors in Santo Domingo, Chile which I was delighted to attend and see how everyone worked as a team and placed the welfare of the horse first.
Naturally, Olympism was high on the agenda for 2015.
We devoted the FEI Sports Forum 2015 to the question of formats at Olympic Games and at the FEI General Assembly in Puerto Rico we continued the consultation process with a dedicated session on the proposed changes to our competition formats and sport presentation. The response and the engagement from the community has been fantastic. We want to remain a relevant sport in today's ever changing sporting landscape and gain the exposure and visibility our sport deserves.
Agenda 2020 is a driving force in this process, but even prior to that we already knew that changes needed to be made to our formats and sport presentation. We are not alone in the sports sphere and need to lead that change so that we are not left behind. As the IOC President Thomas Bach aptly said at the IOC Session in Monaco in December 2014 "To change or to be changed, that is the question"...
And we were able to address this very question with the IOC President on the occasion of his visit to the FEI HQ in November 2015. We showed what we, as a sport and a community, are doing; what makes us unique; what we are doing for good governance and how we are implementing and leading change in order to align ourselves with Agenda 2020.
Developing closer ties with all the stakeholder groups is vital to move our sport forward as a community so that there is consensus and understanding of the challenges we face and the shared goals we have for our sport. As many of you know the FEI decided in 2012 to use Memorandums of Understanding to better define its relationship with different stakeholders such as World Horse Welfare, Organisers and Officials and throughout 2015 we continued to actively pursue these partnerships signing MOUs with the European Equestrian Federation (EEF), the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses (WBSFH), International Horseball (FIHB), University Sports Federations (FISU), International Olympic Committee for the Integrity Betting Intelligence System project (IBIS) and the International Dressage Officials Club (IDOC).
Our relationship with our Top Partner Longines continued to expand with the title sponsorship of the newly launched North American League of the FEI World Cup™ Jumping series and the title sponsorship of the FEI European Eventing Championships in Blair Castle. They continued as the official timekeeper for the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping, and once again, they presented the FEI Awards Gala and Longines Rising Star Award. Their commitment to equestrian sport is undeniable and the launch of the Jumping Conquest Watch was just another demonstration of this passion for horse sport.
At the Finals in Las Vegas, we signed a licensing and sponsorship agreement with Ariat as the official equestrian footwear and apparel supplier for the FEI. We worked hand in hand to develop a new collection which was launched at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping and Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Finals in Gothenburg with a share of the proceeds from the sale of the new product ranges going back into the sport via FEI Solidarity.
As you will see in the Solidarity report, we had another very positive year with tangible results and 54 new projects approved for 2016 and onwards. We have seen the fruits of this labour with athletes qualifying and competing at World Championship level and over 2,600 coaches educated through the FEI Coach Education Programme since 2004.
On the broadcast front, we have concluded long term agreements with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) for distribution and with IMG for distribution and production. Having 8 year partnerships in place with both IMG and EBU allows time to build products better suited than they are currently for the modern media landscape and the ongoing digital revolution. They also provide the FEI with the unique opportunity to work closely with these world leading media entities and integrate their needs and requirements in the future competition formats.
As for our equine athletes, we all agree that ensuring the welfare of the horse and a level playing field is paramount. Clean Sport has been at the forefront of the agenda with worldwide testing set to be launched in 2016. Education is fundamental for clean sport and we must as a community ensure that all our athletes and their extended support teams know the rules.
And now, before you go any further and read all about the sport and the FEI Family highlights from 2015 I want to take this opportunity to thank all the National Federations, the FEI Bureau, the Executive Board and the staff at headquarters for all the good work and support. I also want to extend my sincere gratitude to our partners, all the fans, the officials, the volunteers and the greater equestrian community and industry without whom our sport could not flourish. And lastly, thank you to the athletes – and your dedicated support teams – for making our sport and #TwoHearts what it is.
We have a great sport and a lot to be proud of.
Ingmar De Vos