The Fédération Equestre Internationale confirmed the suspension of two officials, international judge Rogier van Iersel and course designer Rob Jansen, following the first leg of the inaugural Global Champions League in Miami Beach, Fla.
An FEI spokesperson confirmed: “The FEI has applied its rules relating to unsanctioned events and can confirm that the two officials are ineligible. FEI officials will not be authorized to officiate in any capacity at FEI and national events for a period of six months.”
The recent suspensions are the most recent byproduct of the ongoing conflict between the FEI and the Global Champions Tour, which hosts the league. The GCL introduced a new team format, consisting of four horse-and-rider combinations per team competing throughout the year at GCT competitions. Each team has no more than two riders from the same nation and must include a rider under the age of 25. Two pairs are selected to compete at each stop.
The FEI rule in question, GR113, states riders, horses and show officials may not participate in unsanctioned events six months prior to participating in an FEI event.
“FEI officials were informed in December that they would not be authorized to officiate in any capacity at any GCL events, which have not been sanctioned/approved by the FEI. However, it was made clear in the same communication that they would be eligible to officiate at the Global Champions Tour, which is an FEI sanctioned event,” said an FEI spokesperson.
Following their suspension, van Iersel and Jansen released a joint statement, as first reported by WorldOfShowJumping.com.
“We feel that what Jan [Tops] has developed with GCT for more than 10 years has been great for the development of show jumping,” they stated. “The concept of the Global Champions League is another dimension, and the first two events have proven what we thought, that it will be good for show jumping. We wanted to support this initiative, and if you saw the atmosphere in Miami and Mexico it has immediately proven itself to be the positive new dimension we expected.
“Secondly, we don’t understand at all that riders and horses are allowed to compete and that officials are being used to try to block it, which we feel is totally ridiculous for a number of reasons, including horse welfare,” their statement continued. “The precautions for horse welfare at GCT and GCL events are far and above requirements. It is a transparent format and people understand it immediately. We saw in Mexico, where there has not been this level of show jumping for many years, and people were very enthusiastic and understood it. We are really pleased we can support the development of this, and we are really positive and pleased to help.”
The two officials also stated they informed the FEI of their plans before the first GCL event and requested a waiver, which was denied. They’ve appealed that decision and no final decision has been made yet.