The FEI has lost its Appeal against the recent decision by the Belgian Competition Authority that it was involved in anti-competitive practices.
by Frank Mulvihill
The Global Champions League (GCL), the new initiative for an international jumping league and team competition developed by the Global Champions Tour (GCT), had filed a complaint with the Belgian Competition Authority in Brussels accusing the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) of breaching European Union competition law. The complaint referred to similar anti-competition cases in the sport that have taken place in Ireland and Italy in recent times. In Ireland, Millstreet Horse Show recently had a complaint upheld against Showjumping Ireland over similar anti-competition practices.
The move by GCL centred on the FEI imposing its so-called “exclusivity clause” on riders to prevent them competing in events not organised by the FEI itself. The FEI prohibits riders, horses, and officials from taking part in any non-FEI approved event for a period of six months prior to their participation in an FEI event.
The complaint also highlighted that the FEI acts both as the governing body of the sport, setting the rules for all competitions, while also running its own commercial show jumping events in competition with other organisations it governs.
At the time of the case leading international sports business attorney, Jean Louis-Dupont, who represented the GCL in the case, with co-counsel Filip Tuytschaever, competition law attorney and professor, said: “The FEI exclusivity clause is a clear breach of EU competition law and is therefore illegal.” Having won that case the FEI vowed to do everything within its powers to appeal the decision.Today the Appeal was heard and with FEI losing and costs being awarded to GCL.