02 May 2012

Interview for Class Horse TV

1. Your Highness, you are both president of the FEI and a horse woman. The first thing we would like to know is something more about your equestrian experience. Where and when did your passion for horses begin and how did it grow?

[Taken from interview done for Russian magazine Konny Mir in 2010] Horses and riding have been part of my life ever since I was little and it was my father who got me interested in the first place. He gave me a filly foal who needed to be hand raised as her mother had died, just after my own mother had passed away. My father was my whole world and a true horseman. He taught me how to believe in myself and to work as hard as I could, to do my absolute best, and to do it honestly, with dignity and respect to the horses and to other athletes. I am deeply thankful for that. With my father’s support and my goal of becoming a top rider, I had the privilege of being able to experience one of the most wonderful times in my life during the years I was competing in Jumping.

To me horses are God’s perfect balance between power and fragility. The skin around their muzzle is softer than velvet, and if you run your hand down their legs you can feel dense strong bone and tendons as tight as violin strings. I love the way they can half close their eyes and rest a back leg when you brush them and snatch a warning grind of their teeth towards you if you catch a ticklish spot. The way the very ends of their forelock always bleaches a colour lighter in the sun, and when they love you they can hold you with their eyes. I could go on and on, but most of all home for me is on a horse’s back.

When I am sitting on a horse I feel like there I can express everything in my heart and soul to the world without ever speaking. I am only half of myself when I am not on a horse. I have had all sorts of horses in my career, and the only thing I looked for was their character and the qualities of their jump. I prefer difficult horses; usually the great ones are difficult in some way. Somehow I have to say that the horses that I had through my career all came to me in some way, there was always something that felt right, like it was meant to be. I relied on that instinct rather than looking for a breed or size or shape.

2. In 2006 you were elected for the first time President of the International Equestrian Federation. What was the equestrian scenario at that time and how did it evolve under your presidency? 

3. What was behind your decision to stand for election as FEI President?

I had received a lot from the sport as a competitor, had competed in many countries and at the highest level. A big part of the education my father had given us was the principle of giving back. I had been fortunate to fulfil my dreams and standing up as FEI President was a logical way to give back and to serve the sport the best I could.

5. What do you think FEI did well in these years and on which subjects did the FEI concentrate most?

6. On what do you think the FEI should focus the most on in the near future?

We have accomplished a lot over the last few years. My goal for my second term in office is to build on those accomplishments to unify and strengthen our Federation and horse sport. I also believe the FEI can do much more to support National Federations, athletes and organisers.

7. One of the most discussed themes is the “clean sport” issue. Which is the real situation in equestrian sport? What are the differences between different countries and different disciplines? It is important to remember that our sport is very specific in that it involves a human and an animal and that it has not been easy to harmonise the fight against doping and to make it WADA-compliant for these very different beings. The FEI takes Clean Sport very seriously and is convinced that, in order for the campaign to be efficient, it has to be everyone’s responsibility. It’s about fair play. It’s about horse welfare. It’s about best practice.

Testing figures for 2011 (the figures are by Geographical Group because this is how the testing programmes work and not by country or discipline. Having the figures by country and discipline may be misleading.)

• 575 - FEI events tested worldwide (17.9% of all FEI events were tested in 2011);

• 320 – in Europe (MCP testing)

• 255 – outside of Europe

• 3,767 - Number of horses sampled worldwide;

• 8.5% - average of horses sampled per event;

• 0.5% - percentage of positive cases (decreasing which is a very good news);

Each year the FEI published an annual report on its Medication Control Programme and these figures as well more detailed ones are available there. The report is published on the FEI website.

8. What did the FEI improve and promote regarding “clean sport”? Greater clarity Stricter rules and tougher sanctions Compliance with the rules of the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) Integrity Unit Comprehensive education effort


1. The Regulations are divided into two sections, with the approach to Banned Substances (doping) stricter than the previous rules while the rules governing Controlled Medication Substances are more flexible to compensate for the realities of competition.

2. The FEI Equine Prohibited Substances List clearly names all the substances not allowed in competition whilst under FEI rules. There will be a minimum of three months notice before a new substances is added to the List for the next year.

3. Within the List, there are two categories, Banned Substances which have no common legitimate use in equines, and Controlled Medications, which have common uses, but are not allowed whilst in FEI competition.

4. Equine Therapeutic Use Exemptions (ETUEs) are no longer available for Banned (doping) Substances.

5. While the rider of the horse is still the “Person Responsible” (PR) and therefore strictly liable, the new Regulations call for greater focus on support personnel as potential “Additional Persons Responsible”.

6. There will be a presumption of a two-year ban on any PR who has violated the Equine Anti-Doping Rules (i.e. involving a Banned Substance).

7. The PR now has the opportunity to have the B Sample tested at a different lab from the one that tested the A Sample and to have a witness throughout the entire laboratory analysing process.

8. A record of medications given at any time from the FEI Equine Prohibited Substances List must now be kept, whether in competition or outside. All that is required is to record the date, place, active substance used, the person responsible and the treating veterinarian (if applicable).

9. Laboratory Detection Levels for substances at all laboratories are set at fair and equal levels.

10. Any suspicions of a lack of integrity in the sport can be reported directly to the FEI or to the Equestrian Community Integrity Unit.

EQUESTRIAN COMMUNITY INTEGRITY UNIT (ECIU) Independent integrity unit; launched on 1 January 2010; best practice in international sports The Equestrian Community Integrity Unit (ECIU) is essential to monitor corruption, identify offenders and conflicts of interest, as well as safeguard horse welfare. Integrity is about fair play right across the sport, not just about riders and officials. It as much about protecting the innocent as it is about trying to prevent and identify irregular practices.

The ECIU is here to work with the FEI and its stakeholders, not against them. A vital part of the intelligence gathering system is the ECIU telephone hotline and email address for anyone wishing to report concerns they have regarding integrity issues. All calls and emails are confidential and individuals have the right to remain anonymous.

EDUCATION – critical in the anti-doping fight. There should be no cases of doping because of ignorance or lack of education. The most significant example is perhaps the FEI Clean Sport campaign which has been running for the last two years and which has set the benchmark for other sports federations. In 2010 we had no positive results in either our human or our equine athletes at the Youth Olympic Games and the Alltech FEI World Equestrian GamesTM and this is the best possible endorsement of the campaign.

9. Equestrian culture is part of the human heritage. Despite this, many times horses are not respected enough. How can we fight this behaviour?

Ever since it was founded, the FEI has concerned itself with the welfare of the horse through its Statutes, General Regulations and Rules, which are continually reviewed and revised as the sport develops. In 1991, a Code of Conduct for all those involved in the wellbeing of competition horses was ratified by the FEI General Assembly. It was re-examined and updated in 2003. The first article summarises it all: “At all stages during the preparation and training of competition horses, welfare must take precedence over all other demands”.

12. The limit to the number of competitions a horse does in a year has been recently debated. Some argue that too much strain is put on the animal, too many events and often very far from one another meaning frequent long distance travel. What is the FEI position about that?

As I said earlier the welfare of the horse is paramount and the frequency and difficulty of the competitions in which it takes part must never be detrimental to horse welfare. The equestrian disciplines governed by the FEI are very different from one another and it is not possible to make a general rule regarding competition and training frequency and travel. The particularities for each discipline are managed by that discipline’s rules. For example, in Endurance there is a compulsory rest period between events which is in direct relationship to the level of the event in which the horse has competed: up to 40km – 6 days rest; 40-80km - 13 days; over 80 – 20 days.

13. What is your view on the Global Champions Tour? We know that riders voted against the GCT restrictions on the subject that binds the accessibility to price money to taking part in 70% of the events. The FEI asked for 50%. Could you explain to us the reasons behind this request?

• Very good outdoor series. It has contributed to the sport and increased the amount of prise money available to riders. The FEI sees these as positive developments.

• There has indeed been a discussion on the number of competitions counting towards the final standings. It is the FEI’s view that horses and riders should not be required to compete in too many events; participating in 50% of the events in order to get points counting towards the final standings is a fair option. We understand that GCT organisers want a free market and that they would prefer that all GCT event dates were free of other competitions. On the other hand they would like to make riders participate in as many events as possible therefore increasing the competition burden and preventing them from taking part in other events. The FEI’s position is shared by the NFs. FEI’s decision making process has been absolutely transparent and has involved the riders and the NFs. The issue of wild card not specific to the GCT. It has to do with the invitation systems and was addressed at the FEI Sports Forum which has just finished. 15. How can the FEI help developing nations on equestrian sports (Italy for example) to be more competitive internationally? The objectives of the programmes put in place by FEI Solidarity are, among others:

• to assist the National Federations in the preparation of their athletes for participation in FEI competitions; • to develop the sports knowledge and technical level of athletes and coaches;

• to train sports administrators;

• to create, where needed, simple, functional and economical equestrian sports facilities in cooperation with national or international bodies; • to support the organisation of competitions at national, regional and continental level under the authority or patronage of the National Federations and to assist the National Federations in the organisation, preparation and participation of their delegations in regional and continental games;

• to encourage joint bilateral or multilateral cooperation programmes among National Federations;

• to urge governments and international organisations to include equestrian sport in official development assistance.14. There is another unsolved problem about the GCT, which is the one of wild cards... These programmes will be administered by the FEI Solidarity Committee which is composed of representatives from each of the nine FEI Geographical Groups. The FEI Nations Cup is our oldest and most prestigious team competition.

It dates back to 1909; the term “Nations Cup” has become synonymous with team competition. We have to ensure this series which goes back over 100 years and which has always proved very appealing, remains so in the future, especially in a rapidly changing world. It is now our duty to look at the future of the FEI Nations Cup with an open mind in order to make the best possible decisions for its future. The series should be universal and all National Federations should be able to compete. Also the current competition format – two identical Jumping rounds held on the same day over the same course – needs to be reviewed in order to attract more spectators and to make sure it is more television friendly. We need to be courageous and make the necessary decisions that will guarantee the future of the series.

17. This year we’ll celebrate the 80° edition of Piazza di Siena. For us it will be a great opportunity to grow. What is your opinion about equestrian events in Italy?

• As I said earlier, Italy hosts some of the world’s best equestrian events. Piazza di Siena, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, is the perfect example of successful blend of tradition and modernity. Location alone in the beautiful gardens of the Renaissance Villa Borghese is a huge asset. However, the organisers of CSIO Rome have managed to maintain the event’s competitive potential and have managed to ensure the presence of important Italian and foreign companies as sponsors and partners. It always enjoys huge attendance: last year there were over 50.000 visitors during the four days of competition. The event is broadcast live on RAI Television. In the last five or six years some important innovations have been made: the warm up arena was enlarged and modernised and new sand footing is now being used instead of the old grass footing.

• San Patrignano CSI5*– hosted the 2005 FEI European Jumping Championships. In 2006 and 2010 it was voted by the riders the world’s best outdoor Jumping event.

18. Which are the emerging equestrian disciplines on the eve of Olympic Games? Which will be the next equestrian discipline that the FEI would like to see as an Olympic sport?

Currently, and for the last 100 years, there are three equestrian disciplines on the Olympic programme: Jumping, Dressage, and Eventing. My goal is to ensure that they remain relevant to the modern sporting scene and to protect our standing in the Olympic Movement. I will not seek to replace an existing discipline for an additional discipline at the Olympic Games.19. Taking a look at numbers, according to the FEI endurance is the most popular equestrian discipline in the world. What is FEI’s view about endurance? This is incorrect. Jumping has always been the most popular FEI discipline. In 2011, there were 1236 Jumping events out of a total of 3213 FEI events (38.5%). Endurance is second biggest FEI discipline with 811 events (25%). It is an impressive result especially since FEI Endurance is only 30 years old (became an FEI discipline in 1982). The discipline is growing all over the world and what is a matter of great satisfaction is the fact. 

16. The FEI is working hard to give new momentum the Nations’ Cup as the equestrian competition par excellence. Why? Can we say that Nation’s Cup represents the history and the soul of show jumping events? That 30% of these events were for young riders and juniors (241 events for YR and J out of 811 events).

20. Do you think media are more interested today in equestrian sports or are they still something of a rarity on sports magazines and television. The media coverage of equestrian sport is growing.

Two impressive examples:

• FEI World Equestrian Games 2006, Aachen – the advertising equivalent of the media coverage generated by WEG 2006 is 13 million euro based on ca. 14,000 articles published in 20 countries.

• Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2010, Lexington KY - 66 TV channels broadcast the Games worldwide. In the USA alone there were 38 hours of TV coverage, 28 of which live. The internet is offering exciting new possibilities. FEI TV, the FEI’s official online video platform has been operating for just over three years. Despite the fact that it is so young, it is growing at an incredible rate. We live stream the vast majority of the FEI’s top events and have approximately 50 broadcasts a year, along with thousands of hours of archive footage, highlights and interviews.

Our biggest operation to date was the Alltech FEI World Equestrian GamesTM 2010, when FEI TV reached almost 2 million page views. It is a really great resource and one of which we are very proud because it has allowed us to make our sport widely available and to diversify our revenue streams. Rolex FEI Equestrian World – monthly TV magazine broadcast on the world’s major networks. The FEI Equestrian World TV magazine is an exclusive insight into every aspect of horse sport at its best. Every episode includes three to four stories, and takes the viewer on a global journey including regular updates from FEI Series and Championships around the world. T

he FEI Equestrian World TV Magazine is broadcast by Abu Dhabi Media Company, Al Jazeera Sports Channel, Fox Sports Middle East, BBC World News, CNBC Europe, ESPN International, etc. every month.

21. What do you think about the Equestrian Sport Network that links ClassHorseTV, Equidia and Horse&Country?

• Young corporation, interesting initiative.

• The FEI welcomes such initiatives as it should allow the different channels to optimise production resources and produce and broadcast equestrian content of greater diversity and higher quality.

• The FEI welcomes this initiative as we see it as an opportunity to e.g. increase the coverage of our non-Olympic disciplines. We would be delighted to identify possibilities for cooperation between the FEI and the Equestrian Sport Network.

22. In 2014 Normandy will host the next World Equestrian Games. After Lexington, what do you expect from these games?

The FEI World Equestrian GamesTM are the organisation’s biggest event and we are very pleased with how attractive the concept has proven to be. We have a very motivated and professional organising committee for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian GamesTM 2014 in Normandy. They have the solid financial support of the French authorities which is a strong guarantee for the success of the event. The FEI is more involved in the organisation of the Games than ever before and we are confident that together we will deliver a sporting event of the highest quality. The product has developed tremendously since the first edition in 1990, its value has risen and the commercial interest is growing rapidly. We have had a record number eight countries from around the world expressing interest in hosting the 2018 FEI World Equestrian GamesTM. This global interest in the Games proves what an attractive and viable product they are.

24. This year is the 100th anniversary for equestrian sports in Olympic Games. what do you think this means for equestrian sports? 25. How do you imagine equestrian sports in ten years?

I believe we can become a Top 10 sport. It’s not about size, it’s about being a small giant – smart, agile, streamlined and flexible. We can and should maintain our voluntary nature, which is our strength, and couple it with thoroughly professional conduct and financial soundness.

Annex 1- First Term Accomplishments


1. FEI GOVERNANCE The FEI has become a more transparent, accessible, professional and financially sound organisation:

• The 2007 General Assembly in Estoril approved new Statutes and Internal Regulations, with modernised governance structures.

2. NATIONAL FEDERATIONS A key focus for me has been helping our National Federations to give our disciplines, organisers and athletes the opportunities they deserve, in addition to trying to ease some of the burdens that the National Federations bear. Annex 1- First Term Accomplishments

3. COMMERCIAL I continue to believe we can, once again, become a Top 10 sport. It’s not about size, it’s about being a small giant – smart, agile, streamlined and flexible.

• This is the first FEI administration that has not increased taxes at all, for National Federations or our sport. The FEI has become a body that no longer survives predominantly on taxation of its sport.

• In keeping with my 2006 manifesto, we created the Commercial Advisory Board and hired independent consultants to evaluate and recommend improvements to our entire approach to sponsorships. The results included the creation of a critical mass of definite statistics to help us service existing sponsors and target potential partners. Our Commercial Department adopted a strategic approach to its activities.

• We added HSBC as a financial partner and an Eventing Sponsor and created a new commercial property in the HSBC ClassicsTM.

• We added Meydan as a show jumping Nations Cup Sponsor. Since the direction of Meydan’s sponsorship activities has changed, Meydan will remain in the FEI Family as a sponsor to another discipline.

• Fashion designer Reem Acra signed a three-year sponsorship for the Western European League and the Final of the FEI World CupTM Dressage.

• We secured Alltech as a Title Sponsor for the FEI World Equestrian Games for 2010 and 2014.

• We continued to travel the road with our valued sponsor Rolex, and through them we have established a benchmark for sponsorship retention and service.

• We raised CHF 12 million in my first year in office, exceeding our target of CHF 10 million.

• We improved the FEI’s financial metrics across the board, with the following results: - Commercial revenue up from CHF 4.9 million to CHF 15.3 million - The proportion of overall revenue from commercial activity up from 29% to 49% - Overall revenue up from CHF 17 million to CHF 31.2 million - Assets grew from CHF 18.2 million to CHF 44.18 million, excluding the new headquarters - Reserves up from CHF 8.7 million to CHF 10 million

• We created a new revenue stream by planning to rent out part of the new FEI headquarters for 600,000 Euros per year, for a net gain of 1.6 million Euros per year for the FEI, compared to renting space prior to owning our own building.

• We created FEI Television, with a competitive tender for distribution and production contracts with defined targets and incentives (IMG and MBPTV).

• We partnered with Atari to develop and launch “My Horse and Me,” a series of video games to introduce budding athletes and non-riders to horse sport.

• We created new events and products to raise the FEI’s profile and enhance its commercial appeal, including the FEI Awards, FEI Focus and the FEI Inspire Photo Exhibition. These initiatives also help create regional and global heroes for the FEI.

• We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Global Champions Tour and have benefited from the additional value brought by the HSBC ClassicsTM. To incentivise our show organisers, we have entered into profit-sharing arrangements based on finding joint sponsors for events such as Madrid for the European Championships and the Alltech WEG, which resulted in an 85 percent /15 percent split.

• We engaged in European Broadcasting Union negotiations with IMG to add value for the host nation of the WEG, in addition to delivering FEI TV.

• The FEI experienced significantly increased media and television coverage at the World Equestrian Games, the European Championships and the Olympic Games.

4. DEVELOPMENT I believe that development and commercialisation go hand-in-hand: development that is sustainable also requires a commercial income, which is dependent on the commercial success of the organisation as a whole. Development should not be seen as handouts to the less well off, but rather as the right of National Federations to evolve with dignity.

• During 2007, 2008 and 2009, we ran an exceptional amount of diagnostic work to identify the needs facing our National Federations and possible solutions.

• The FEI’s Development Officers made significant efforts in Eastern Europe and South America at a grassroots level. We are also seeing results at the championship level.

• The emerging nations that make up the FEI need to feel that their voices can be heard without fear of repercussions.

• We have new horse and rider registration systems, a new calendar, results management systems and an ongoing development in entry and event schedules systems.

• We established an Education and Standards Department, which should once again fall under Development.

• We launched our first ever FEI Year of Youth in the run up to the inaugural Youth Olympic Games to engage online with young people around the world. This initiative was praised by sport consultants IMG as one of the most effective outreach programmes of any International Federation, with the FEI recognised as ‘one of the only International Federations to capitalise on the Youth Olympic Games’.

• We raised CHF 2 million to be earmarked for Development during the first year of my tenure, and we have now raised CHF 12 million through the “Friends of the FEI”.

• We established a Development Task Force to implement a development strategy, examining financial models for a sustainable Development Programme, identifying ways to better serve National Federations and the sport. The task force recommends a five-year development plan that needs to be based on the further input of the disciplines.

5. HUMAN AND EQUINE WELFARE Welfare is about ensuring that the innocent party is always protected and nurtured in all equestrian sporting pursuits. Horse welfare is one of the central pillars of the FEI, and we have taken huge steps in this area through the FEI’s Clean Sport Initiative. We put in place protocols that will ensure that the sport is clean, competition is fair and the competing horses are safe. This initiative has involved a revision of the rules and the production of a list of prohibited substances that makes a clear distinction between doping and medication, with strict sanctions for doping in line with the World Anti-Doping Code. We can see the results. There were 15 human doping cases for all sports at the Olympic Games in Beijing, and six equine cases. Whereas, at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky 2010,a total of 82 horses where tested, we had not one positive result.

• The specific measures taken, which go into accreditation protocols, searchable drug databases and the like are too numerous to list here, but can all be found on the dedicated website we created, www.feicleansport.org, which provides all the information that anyone involved in equestrian sport needs to know, including a number of tools to stay informed.

• Perhaps the greatest difference between our recent efforts to prevent doping and previous initiatives is the much greater focus on education and communication, and the fact that we have moved hand-in-hand with our human athletes instead of treating them as culpable scapegoats. We have provided them with clarity, and we have worked with our treating vets to find solutions that protect our equine partners.

• We established an independent Equestrian Community Integrity Unit to safeguard the integrity of equestrian sport. This unit is essentially an Anti-Corruption Squad, and its strength lies in its independence. It is also empowered to ensure the integrity of FEI governance and administration.

• As a result of the Clean Sport Initiative, the FEI is now in line with WADA, with a drug information database and a List Group that annually appraises and adjusts our Equine Anti-Doping Prohibited Substances List.

• We have harmonised our labs and protocols. For the first time, all our labs have formal contracts.

• We conducted a consultation on the issue of hyperflexion through the Hyperflexion Round Table on 9 February 2010, which showed that talking to welfare groups could help us reach agreements.

• We established fast track systems for Olympic Games and other major championships, and a faster judicial process through our tribunal.

• We created a useable eventing safety database to allow us to make statistically based and informed decisions rather than intuitive ones.

• We have made progress on reviewing and clarifying the line between banned and allowed substances.

6. INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE Universality is celebrated in the symbolism of the five intertwined rings of the Olympic Movement, which represent the five continents. This definition includes not only regions, but sports. A commitment to universality must drive the FEI’s efforts to create open access to horse sport for people from all cultures, from the very most basic grassroots level up to Olympic level, and through all sectors of society. This should be our mission as we aspire to deliver a service of excellence - and this must be our mission if we are to preserve our place within the Olympic family. The same philosophy must apply to our non-Olympic disciplines.

• I have delivered on my pledge to strengthen equestrian disciplines within the Olympic movement through becoming an elected IOC member. This appointment as an IOC member in 2007 has enabled me to build stronger links between the FEI and the IOC, and we have protected our status within the Olympic Family.

• On a case-by-case basis, upon request of the National Federations, we have worked on building solid ties between them and their respective National Olympic Committees.

• In order to strengthen the FEI’s relationship with the IOC Executive Board, we have built on the relationship that exists between the FEI Olympic Department and the IOC by seeking their advice on key issues and staying in close contact, especially in the event of crises needing effective management.

• We have made sure that we are seen to be helpful to the IOC at all times and have worked tirelessly to ensure that horse sport falls in line with all their requirements, that it is clean, transparent, cost effective and safe.

• The delivery of an expanded communications team at the FEI has ensured a more proactive communications plan for the IOC press offices and media outputs.

• Elective pre-screening at Hong Kong demonstrated the FEI’s commitment to put judicial and anti-doping issues at the heart of our technical activity at the Olympic Games. We also had YOG horses screened before they left Australia, put provisional suspensions in place and set up our Integrity Unit.

• During my tenure, for the first time, the Bureau and Group Chairs were asked to consider the bids for the allocation of 2016 Olympic Games, and I voted as an IOC member as per the wishes of the Group Chairs and Technical Chairs that form our Bureau, demonstrating the FEI’s commitment to ensure that we produce the best possible facilities for the National Federations.

• In order to create a celebration of horse sport within the Olympic movement, we have delivered an interactive museum in the new FEI headquarters building, the Inspire Photo Exhibition, and the Year of Youth, as well as the introduction of rider graphics and statistics on television and scorecards.

• During the past four years, FEI headquarters staff has increased proactivity and cooperation with the IOC and other International Federations, resulting in shaping the FEI as a trusted partner in the Olympic network.

• The FEI headquarters staff increased its attendance of sport seminars in Lausanne, and the FEI is now seen as much more of a leader among Olympic Sports Federations, taking a role in International Federation forums and other panels. This increased proactivity has resulted in much positive feedback from other International Federations and the IOC. The FEI is no longer working in isolation.

FEI GOVERNANCE NATIONAL FEDERATIONS [unused quote from the Around The Rings interview]: The FEI Sports Forum is very important to us as it will open up a new channel for dialogue with our members. Rule changes, which are crucial for all our disciplines, were always handled though a very formal “paper” procedure which did not allow for a direct exchange of ideas. There was no place where we could talk about sports matters with our members and stakeholders face to face and I felt as if we were divorced from our sport. I very much hope that void will be filled by the Sports Forum.

We would like to know the views of our members, to bring transparency and speed to the decision-making process, to make it more open and democratic, and to ultimately serve our members in the best possible way. The Sports Forum is a great addition to the calendar, it is an avenue for speedy, yet sound, decisions. It will help us address the challenges of the future as a team.