The sword of ‘derecognition’ hanging over the Equestrian Federation of India (EFI) has given away to ‘temporary relief’ as the Sports Ministry has extended the federation’s recognition until March 31, 2020.
It is learnt that the Sports Ministry has sent an official letter wherein it states that it has factored in the peculiar nature of the sport of equestrian and has given the EFI a timeframe of around four months to put in place a roadmap so that they can be compliant with the 2011 National Sports Code. Clearly, the Sports Ministry’s move has taken everyone by surprise, including the country’s national Olympic association – Indian Olympic Association (IOA), who were categorical that they would continue to derecognise the Equestrian Federation of India.
The threat of ‘derecognition’ loomed over the EFI with both the Sports Ministry and the IOA asking the federation to get their house in order. It may be worth noting that the Sports Ministry had earlier instructed the federation to comply with the draft National Sports Development Code of India (NSDCI) by August 8, 2019 or face derecognition. This was the reason why no observer sent for the EFI elections held on September 29.
The latest call taken by the Sports Ministry hasn’t gone down well with the IOA. There is a line of thought that the Sports Ministry’s latest move may set a bad precedent and encourage other national sports federations to seek for leniency when it comes to adhering to the 2011 National Sports Code. It is important to understand that, a national sports federation should have recognition from both the national Olympic association and the Sports Ministry, according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) rules.
Various state associations have been up in arms over the functioning of the EFI over many years now – things have come to such a pass that the existence of state units have been dented big-time. Raghuvendra Singh Dundlod, President, Rajasthan Equestrian Association, sounded frustrated over the Sports Ministry’s move to extended recognition to the EFI to March 31, 2020. “The EFI was asked to provide a roadmap in 2017 as well, and I want to know which points mentioned in that roadmap have been adhered to. What assurance is that the EFI will adhere to their roadmap this time around,” he asked.
The Rajasthan Equestrian Association President was talking to his lawyers and did not rule moving the court against the Sports Ministry. The anger among the various state associations against the EFI is deep-rooted. Their biggest grouse is that the federation is being run in an undemocratic manner and state units are being marginalised over the years. Another big bone of contention among state units is that the EFI is offering voting rights to individual members and clubs, which is in gross contravention of the 2011 National Sports Code that clearly stipulates that no national sports federation can grant voting rights to individual members and clubs. Further, the state units have been feeling sidelined mainly over the years simply because the EFI has been giving membership to individuals and clubs of various states without taking the state associations into confidence.
The EFI on its part has been defending itself by taking the ‘peculiar nature’ line which it says has not enabled the federation to form the minimum required 24 state associations, with 50 per cent of district associations under them due to non-availability of equine athlete (Horse) and human athlete (Rider) in districts.
Clearly, the administrative and governance uncertainty does not bode well for the sport, where the country had bagged two silver medals in individual and team evening categories at the 2018 Asian Games – in fact, the Asiad performance was touted as a revival of sorts for the sport considering the fact that the country had returned home ‘medal-less’ at the 2010 and 2014 Asian Games since last winning a bronze medal at the 2006 Doha Asian Games.
Surely, the recognition extension move of the Sports Ministry very much came on unexpected lines and only time will tell if the move was a prudent one!