Taipei - HRH Princess Haya, was re-elected as FEI President in a landslide victory, although she did face opposition with a strong effort of the two entities which ran against her. The Royal Princess of Jordan has had a busy year. While the opposition was quite vocal in their campaign, her responsibilities as President in a year full of duties with the Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games finishing just three weeks ago, took precedent over campaigning for re-election. In spite of the strong vote to keep her on for the next and last term, she admits she was never really sure of her victory until the votes were counted. In the following interview she addresses the issues, and her plans for the next four years as the leader of the governing organization of Equestrian sport.
Q. What plans do you have for the next four years?
“The plans that I outlined to the National Federations in my programmes are that I would like the next four years to be remembered for huge strides forward in the areas of development, transport and quarantine and related to development, I would like the FEI to be remembered for excellent service. There is much for us to continue from the work we’ve started of the old programme and it would be my biggest pledge to unify the FEI and to look forward to a future of growth and prosperity for horse sport.”
Q. How do you answer the criticisms of your leadership over the last four years?
“I know I was very hands on in the first four years and probably more so than many would have liked and while I admit to that and I have said there are thngs that I could have done things differently, I felt that I had little choice in order to deliver the mandate which I had been elected on and to deal with the issues that I had to deal with which required that kind of energetic approach. I don’t feel that the issues we have to deal with looking ahead are of the same nature at all so I feel that there will definitely be a period of calm and consolidation and of growth.”
Q. Have you enjoyed your time in Taipei and would you like to return?
“I would love to come back. Tt has been an amazing visit for me and so many dreams have come true and I will forever remember my time in Taipei for all of those happy moments. I haven’t experienced nearly enough of the culture here but one of the impressionable things I remember is the warmth and hospitality of the people and that has been the impression of everyone here. And I think we would all love to come back here, it is a beautiful country.”
Q. When were you convinced that you would win?
”After the result, seriously.”
Q. It has been a busy year, do you feel you had the time you needed to focus on the election?
“The most important thing to me and the team I was working with that was that I was very conscious that I was an incumbent President with responsibilities to fulfil and my campaign efforts took a lesser place to the job that we had to do. We had one of the busiest years in FEI history this year. We had the Youth Olympic Games, we had the global congress of anti-inflammatories in August and the World Equestrian Games, which finished only three weeks ago so it has been a whirlwind of a year and one where it was necessary to put our responsibilities as a priority. In the last three weeks, I concentrated on my campaign and put my programme out and started contacting the National Federations to outline my plans and I am very, very glad that I have had such overwhelming support for my mandate that I presented to them.”
Q. One of the criticisms leveled at you in your last term was an appearance that democratic processes were not followed. In the next four years what can the equestrian world expect from you in that regard?
“I think that while there are a number of areas where I had to act in order to fulfil the mandate that I was given, I do accept that there were very harsh criticisms made and I took them entirely seriously. I learned lessons along the way, but going forward we really do look to a period of consolidation and calm and that really is also due to the fact that we have dealt with some very serious issues head on. We dealt with them in a positive manner, we faced our issues and I do think we buried them. From now on some of those very serious issues, like Clean Sport, which was our answer to doping, will hopefully not come back and I do look forward to a period of calm and consolidation and look forward to bright days ahead.”
Q. How have you felt about facing opposition in your leadership and how do you plan to mend fences going forward?
“I did feel quite tired. I had a really, really packed year with so much on our plate and I was disappointed in a way that so many other things could have been achieved if I had not had the distraction of the election but given the calendar dates we have had, I look back on this year and know that there is absolutely no way anything more could have been achieved other than the wonderful results that we had. I knew the announcement of the election would get in the way but I have a great team at the headquarters who have always acted with professionalism and hopefully what we have done, we have done very well this year.”
Q. What lessons have your learned from your first four years and how will your second term by different from your first?
“I have learned many lessons, one of the basic lessons was to try to deal with the diverse cultural differences of this organisation and with people and to understand that this job in the end, whilst it celebrates the horse, is about people and tolerance is something you get reminded of and the fact that while it is a global organisation it is actually about individuals and you should celebrate each and everyone of them and try to find the key to each individual. That’s what success is all about.”
Q. How did it feel to get the 2011 Prohibited Substances List passed today?
“It was absolutely the best. I know for so many people the Presidential election is what will grab people’s attention but for me and for all of us in the FEI the greatest win we had today was passing the Equine Substances List, it really was.”