The changes made in regards of starting places for the FEI World Cup Dressage finals in Gothenburg that will take place at the beginning of April 2021 in Sweden, caused some uproar. Critique was uttered. Now in a statement the FEI makes clear, that national federations were involved like it is common, emphasizing, that the changes are specific to the current World Cup series only and were brought in as emergency measures specifically due to the situation with Covid-19. As well the FEI makes clear that the changes were communicated to national federations and organisations.
The statement of the FEI says:
The rules for the FEI Dressage World Cup™ are approved, and have always been, by the FEI Board following recommendations from the Dressage Committee. The FEI Dressage Committee held its first meeting since the FEI General Assembly on 1 December 2020. George Williams (USA), the outgoing Committee member who was replaced by Monica Theodorescu (GER) at the FEI General Assembly, was invited to attend the meeting, as is traditionally done after elections to ensure continuity.
The World Cup Rules for the 2020/2021 season were discussed at length, specifically around the Western European League (WEL) as that is the league in which qualifiers were most seriously impacted by the pandemic after the Pacific League which had no qualifiers at all. It was agreed that every angle needed to be explored to ensure a top quality starting field at the Finals in Gothenburg.
The recommendation from the Dressage Committee was that the three starting places (home athlete, non-league athlete and FEI extra starting place) should be reallocated to the WEL. The view of the Committee was that not all allocated starting places would be filled, potentially leaving room for a non-league athlete to compete at the Finals if able to travel. In addition, as Patrik Kittel was already qualified, there was less need to maintain the home athlete slot.
The Rules document was updated internally on 6 December, but the changes were still subject to FEI Board approval. The revisions were discussed at the FEI Board meeting on 15 December and formal approval was received in writing from Board Members by 16 December. The community was informed that changes had been made to these Rules on 17 December as part of the general wrap-up on Board Resolutions via an NF News, which goes to all National Federations, organisations with which the FEI has a Memorandum of Understanding – including the International Dressage Riders Club (IDRC) – and other stakeholders. The changes are also published on the Dressage section of the Covid-19 hub under Resolutions & Decisions.