By Callum Murray in Lausanne
The FEI, equestrianism’s world governing body, has set a deadline of September 1 for the submission of candidacies for the position of FEI president, after last month’s extraordinary general assembly held in Lausanne in which delegates voted overwhelmingly in favour of extending the presidential tenure to cover a third four-year period.
The strength of that vote would seem to suggest that the incumbent, Princess Haya Al Hussein of Jordan, is virtually certain of re-election.
Nevertheless, the FEI Bureau, the federation’s ruing body, also decided yesterday to switch the venue for the general assembly from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (where it was to be hosted by Princess Haya) to Baku in Azerbaijan, “in order to avoid holding the presidential election in the country of a potential candidate.”
Although Princess Haya originates from Jordan, her residence is in Dubai with her husband, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. She is also an International Olympic Committee member for the UAE.
The application process for presidential candidacies began yesterday.
The FEI added: “Additionally, and in order to align the application process, the Bureau has extended the deadline for all other open positions on the FEI Bureau and Technical Committees, with the exception of the Athletes Committee, until 1 September.”
At April’s extraordinary general assembly, Princess Haya, who had originally instigated the limitation of the president’s tenure to two four-year terms, told delegates after they voted to extend it: “Previously I believed a term of eight years was correct. But I always tried to listen to what you say. This time, I’m listening. I remain fully committed, and very honoured for the opportunity to be available for the next term. I don’t want to go further because there is a possibility that there will be more candidates [for election to the presidency] and they should have the opportunity to come forward. But at the same time, you have my commitment to you.”
The assembly’s switch to Baku, in response to an invitation from the Equestrian Federation of Azerbaijan, represents another hosting victory for the country, which has targeted staging major sporting events and occasions as part of a campaign to raise its profile on the world stage.
Baku is hosting next year’s inaugural European Games, and is also one of 19 cities bidding to be on Uefa's final list of 13 cities to host matches of Euro 2020, soccer's European Championships. The city has also been linked with a possible bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games.
The dates for the general assembly, 11 to 14 December, remain unchanged, with the presidential election scheduled for 14 December.