Brussels Court denies FEI appeal in GCL case
The Brussels Court of Appeal has today denied the FEI appeal on the interim measures imposed by the Belgian Competition Authority which prevent the FEI from imposing its unsanctioned event rule on athletes and horses competing in the Global Champions League.
“We are of course disappointed that the Brussels Court of Appeal has denied the FEI’s request for a full annulment of the Belgian Competition Authority decision, but this is only a phase in the process”, FEI President Ingmar De Vos said today. “The real procedure hasn’t even begun yet, as the full merits of the case still have to be heard by the Belgian Competition Authority. We will continue to fight with all legal means.
“This decision seems to be in direct contradiction to the investigation undertaken by the European Commission into similar cases, including this specific FEI case, with the stated aim of ensuring the coherent application of EU anti-trust rules.
“The FEI has already raised this issue with the IOC, ASOIF and other international sports Federations, as many of our colleagues in the sports world are confronted with similar cases concerning European Competition Law. We all agree that we need this kind of rule to allow us to effectively govern our sport, preserve its integrity, protect our athletes and guarantee clean sport and a level playing field. Commercial considerations should never prevail over sport.”
“The necessity of an unsanctioned event rule in sports was discussed again during meetings with the IOC and ASOIF in Lausanne last week. There was consensus that this rule is fundamental to sport. We agreed that we need to defend the legitimacy of this rule and have a common and consistent approach in addressing this with the European Commission.”
The Global Champions League lodged a complaint with the Belgian Competition Authority in June 2015 alleging that the FEI’s unsanctioned events rule was in breach of competition law.
The Belgian Competition Authority granted interim measures on 27 July requiring the FEI to suspend its unsanctioned events rule (Article 113 of the FEI General Regulations), introduced in January 2013 under which athletes and/or horses are ineligible to compete in an international or national event if they have participated in an unsanctioned event in the previous six months.
An unsanctioned event is an event and/or a competition that is neither published in the official Calendar nor authorized by a National Federation.