FEI Judges Call for Action to Abolish Age Limit Rule

Fri, 11/16/2018 - 09:46
Cara Whitham celebrated in her retirement year as a judge at the 20187 CDI 5* Wellington :: Photo © Astrid Appels

FEI judges are calling for action and pushing the FEI to abolish its Mandatory Age Retirement Rule, which they consider illegal. To them the FEI taking too long to amend the rules. A group of judges has started a petition.

They believe that the current FEI rule is antiquated, illegal, against human rights and does not accurately reflect today’s generation’s mental and physical capabilities.

Annually experienced FEI judges are forced to retire from the FEI Judges roster in all disciplines due to the age limit (70 with a maximum extension of 2 years). Many of the highly ranked 4 and 5* judges believe that years of knowledge and experience will no longer be available to younger judges, riders and competition organizers. 

For the past three years the FEI has announced plans to alter the age retirement rule as well as plans to hire more staff and develop a better educational programme that fails to truly lift off.

Back in 2016 Mark Samuel, chair of the FEI Officials Working Group, already announced at the FEI Sport Forum in Lausanne which was also Live Streamed "well the writing is on the wall. It is clear this rule is not legal".

"This matter has been under discussion now for at least 3 years within the FEI and in public, through the FEI annual Sport Forum, yet still the simple decision to abolish this archaic and illegal rule drags on. No FEI judge disagrees with the fact that there should be clear guidelines and competency evaluations for all judges, nor that after a certain age officiating at major Games & Championships should be limited or not allowed," retired Canadian 5* judge Cara Whitham told Eurodressage.

"The FEI through Ingmar (De Vos)'s recent announcement still says the removal of the rule will still take more time. Why? Because the FEI wants to hire more staff and implement a program in their usual slow and procrastinating manner? No problem let them take as  long as they want, but do not let it affect the decision and vote to abolish the current age retirement rule, which not only illegal in many countries is also considered against Human Rights by the United Nations."

The FEI has planned on abolishing the age retirement rule and replace it with a competency based testing system which the older judges have to pass in order to continue to officiate.

"The FEI now has to accept the Motion and Vote to abolish the age retirement rule NOW in order not to continue this disgraceful loss of experience and wealth of knowledge and stop hiding behind "Time to Organize"," Whitham stressed. "Nor dismiss the matter saying it did not follow the process for topics to be addressed at the FEI General Assembly!"

"The time has come for action now, not just lip service and cautious words of needing time," Whitham stressed. "I as do others respect the need for a clear pathway and possible limitations, but this already has been mentioned on many occasions by the top tier Judges, so why not invite a group of these judges to present a proposal? I am certain this will be achieved a lot faster than waiting for FEI to hire people and get a program in place! Use the knowledge and experience the FEI has already carelessly discarded!"

Related Links
Cara Whitham to Retire as 5* Dressage Judge
Belgian Mariette Withages Retires as International O-Judge
Remuneration, Education, Appointment, Age Limit of FEI Officials Discussed at 2016 FEI Sports Forum
FEI Rule Changes relating to the Judging Supervisory Panel