The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) while upholding the International Equestrian Federation’s (FEI) decision to suspend the UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation’s (UAEERF) membership until 31 December, 2020, has ruled in favour of permitting the UAE to host endurance events starting 1 January, 2021 rather than the previously stipulated date of 31 March, 2021.
In September, the FEI Board has suspended the UAEERF following a detailed investigation into the circumstances around two National Endurance Events (CEN) in January and February 2020 that should have been held as International Endurance Events (CEIs) as the number of foreign athletes far exceeded the quota permitted for National Events.
The FEI Board unanimously agreed that a significant sanction was required and in accordance with Article 8.3 of the FEI Statutes, the UAEERF was to be suspended with effect from 24 September, 2020 on the following counts: a.) A full suspension of the UAEERF (all activities across all FEI disciplines) until 31 December, 2020 and b.) A suspension of the UAEERF’s activities in relation to the discipline of endurance until 31 March, 2021.
But while upholding the decision to fully suspend the UAEERF until 31 December 2020, the CAS said the body governing equestrian sport in the UAE could go ahead and host endurance events starting 1 January, 2021.
Furthermore, the CAS reduced fines imposed on the organising committees behind endurance events by 50% and decided the FEI would have to bear its own legal costs and fees in pursuing the matter. The ruling said each of the parties involved would have to bear their own expenses for arbitration procedures in the CAS Court.
HE Major General Dr. Ahmed Naser Al Raisi, the UAEERF President, hailed the ruling in favour of the UAE and attributed it to the support received from HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the wise leadership of the UAE.
Al Raisi thanked endurance organising committees in the UAE for bringing the case before the international court, and said he was looking forward to the start of the equestrian season with great optimism. Furthermore, Al Raisi assured activities will be held in accordance with safety rules endorsed by various governing bodies as the UAE continues in its fight to eliminate Covid-19.
Al Raisi said: “The ruling was expected due to the fact that it was not issued through a legal reference, and suspension of UAE equestrian activities has clearly affected the progress and continuation of this sport (endurance) around the world, especially since the UAE is the main engine and driver for the acceleration of the world’s advancement in the field of equestrian in a major way.”
Dr. Ghanem Muhammad Al Hajri, Secretary General of the UAEERF, echoed similar sentiments, thanking the UAE’s leadership for its support and the efforts put in by the UAEERF to take up the case with the CAS. He also thanked stables, trainers, owners, and members of the UAE equestrian community for their support.
“All parties have been affected by the suspension whether at the local or international level including riders, trainers and more, and we are now preparing for the new season and looking forward to it greatly,” Al Raisi said.
Ahmed Al Suwaidi, UAEERF Executive Director, added: “The ruling showed the error in the decision made by the FEI, and we hail the decision of the CAS to make them pay their own lawyer fees and costs rather than making the UAE pay for it.”