After Bitter Year-Long Legal Battle, FEI and Global Champions League Reach Agreement

PC: Stafeno Grasso/GCL

The FEI and the Global Champions League (GCL) have reached full agreement with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The agreement includes FEI approval of the GCL rules, which are now in compliance with FEI rules.

During the GCL’s inaugural 2016 season, the FEI and Global Champions had a long, bitter, and arduous legal and PR battle regarding the FEI’s decision to not only refuse to sanction the event, but also to attempt to punish riders and officials who participated in the league.

The GCL insisted that the FEI had monopolized the show jumping industry and snuffed out innovation in the sport, while the FEI argued that the GCL could not and should not operate outside the FEI’s sanctioned events, and doing so endangered horse welfare.

The new memo, which is between the FEI, GCL and the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT), replaces the MOU between the FEI and the GCT which was signed in September 2007.

As a result of the agreement, the GCL’s complaint to the Belgian Competition Authority which alleged the FEI’s Unsanctioned Events rule was in breach of EU anti-trust legislation, has been formally withdrawn. The FEI Officials who were sanctioned for officiating at GCL events prior to this week’s agreement, have also formally withdrawn their complaints to the BCA.

In a joint statement, GCL Co-Founders Jan Tops and Frank McCourt said: “We are pleased to have reached consensus with the FEI and appreciate the genuine efforts that have been made to achieve this agreement and resolve outstanding issues. We thank everyone involved for their efforts in reaching this outcome.

“We are very much looking forward to working with the FEI and to building a healthy, strong and sustainable future for our sport and all its stakeholders in the modern sports landscape.”

The FEI also released a statement, with FEI President Ingmar De Vos stating, “We are very happy that this long-running saga has finally been resolved to the satisfaction of both sides and that the Global Champions League is now officially an FEI-approved series.”

“The new MOU with the GCT/GCL also now means an end to the legal issues between us, which has to be good for the future of the sport. The FEI was always of the belief that there was room for coexistence between the current FEI series and the GCL and, with the signing of the MOU, now we can turn the page and look to the future. It’s a great step forward and ends a period of uncertainty for athletes, organisers and FEI officials.”

The Global Champions Tour and League kicks off in Mexico City on April 6th.