The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) has announced that equestrian-focused investment group Meydan is to withdraw its sponsorship of the 2014 World Games in Normandy, France, in order to avoid a conflict of interest.
Under the deal announced in February, UAE-based Meydan was set to be associated with all eight official disciplines at the FEI event and become the title sponsor of the World Endurance Championship on August 28. Meydan has been associated with the previous two editions of the World Equestrian Games at Aachen, Germany in 2006 and Kentucky, USA in 2010.
The decision comes after a meeting between HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is closely affiliated with Meydan, and the FEI, which was represented by vice-presidents John McEwen and Pablo Mayorga, as well as secretary general Ingmar De Vos.
During the discussions, HH Sheikh Mohammed said that as Meydan is the regulator in Dubai for various equine related matters, it would be prudent for it to withdraw its sponsorship of the World Games. Indian multi-product company SOBHA Group has been put forward as a possible replacement for Meydan. The acceptance of SOBHA as a replacement for Meydan will be considered for formal approval by the World Equestrian Games board on April 17.
Despite Meydan’s withdrawal from the World Games, it will still sponsor the work of the FEI Endurance Task Force as part of an effort to ensure fairness on the field of play during the 2014 Games and beyond. This sponsorship position will complement its current role as an equine regulator. HH Sheikh Mohammed also said he will provide, through the FEI’s commercial department, onsite hospitality facilities during the Endurance competition day to enable athletes to benefit from equal facilities.
In addition, the FEI also moved to address an issue raised during the Endurance Conference in February over the need for commercial activities and sports to be clearly and formally separated. For this reason, the Technical Committee and the Endurance Sports Department can no longer be involved in any commercial activities and transactions, with this now becoming the sole responsibility of the FEI’s commercial department.