A growing row over whether Ingmar De Vos could hold concurrent roles as salaried Fédération Equestre International secretary general and president has resulted in a proposal that would make the role of president a paid position.
Legal advice initially indicated the dual role was permissible under FEI statute and Swiss law. But then rival presidential candidate Pierre Genecand commissioned an alternative opinion, and De Vos revealed in a personal email to all national federations that even some who asked him to stand share these concerns.
The elections take place Dec. 14 during the FEI General Assembly in Baku, Azerbaijan. De Vos now proposes that if successful, he would immediately resign as secretary general and appoint an interim successor, asking Princess Haya to consider a handover period, and call an Extraordinary General Assembly during the FEI sports forum in April to vote for a statute change allowing future presidents to be remunerated.
The FEI declined to comment on procedural matters, saying it had to remain “neutral.”
But De Vos said, “I have been clear about my intentions, and, in the event I am elected, I would be disappointed if the EGA were to reject the proposal, as it is part of my candidacy.
“The FEI is now a professional organization that needs professionalism at all levels,” he continued. “Many international federations and organizations now have presidents that receive a remuneration or honorarium. There is nothing unusual about this. It is, in my view, not a good practice that the presidency would only be limited to volunteers that can afford it.”
If the EGA chose not to change the statutes, then De Vos said he’d continue to volunteer as president, but he’d also likely pursue other occupations not related to the FEI. If the statutes do change, a presidential salary would be set by the FEI Bureau according to market standards.
Switzerland’s Genecand was the first to declare for the presidency. De Vos was among five to declare just days before the Sept. 1 deadline, after Princess Haya revealed she wouldn’t run again. The FEI set up an independent scrutiny committee and published measures enabling De Vos to function as secretary general during the campaign while not disadvantaging other candidates.
However, Genecand commissioned an opinion from Margareta Baddeley, a professor on the law faculty at the University of Geneva who specializes in sport law. This concluded the “accumulation of two positions” required a statute change not possible before 2016.
Genecand added: “Under the present statutes, should Mr. De Vos be elected president, he would have to renounce his position as secretary general with immediate effect. Unless he does so, the election could be invalidated by the relevant Tribunal, a scenario which could potentially be highly damaging for both the image of the FEI and equestrian sports internationally.”
De Vos apologized that the dispute has “become a distraction from the important issue of choosing a suitable president.”
The other candidates are Ulf Helgstrand (Denmark), John McEwen (Britain), Pierre Durand (France) and Javier Revuelta del Peral (Spain).