Sunday, February 16, 2014

How to Piss off the Swiss - Full Article

February 15 2014
Karen Robinson

When you refer to someone as ‘being Switzerland’, you aren’t likely to be accusing that person of being full of holes like Swiss Emmental, or delicious like Toblerone, or tall and slim like the Matterhorn. Chances are what you mean is that the person is refusing to take sides in a dispute, instead remaining neutral – much to the immense frustration of everyone on both sides. Switzerland is where the world’s great warring factions go to try and talk things out, such as the recent Syrian Peace Talks which took place in Montreux, the very same Montreux where the 2013 FEI GA was held. There is no doubt about it. The Swiss are world leaders at sitting on the fence.

So what does it take to get the Swiss riled up? I’m heartened to report a very worthy cause: the situation with FEI endurance that has completely exhausted my vocabulary for negative adjectives. Of all the national equestrian federations around the world, Switzerland is sticking to its guns more than anyone. My first exposure to Swiss backbone was at the GA in November, where I had the opportunity to meet the Swiss Fed’s Chef de Mission, Claude Nordmann. In spite of the fact that his federation played host to the 2013 GA (and ironically, hosted the cocktail party that followed the endurance presentation), Claude clearly identified much more with the shocked media than with the ecstatic majority who leapt to their feet to show their undying adoration for HRH and all that she does.

Since the GA, ground level realities continue to deteriorate at endurance races, and the Swiss federation has made no bones about its escalating disgust. On February 4th it issued a statement titled “Unsatisfactory starting point for the forthcoming endurance conference”, which you can read here. On February 12th, this piece appeared in The Guardian: “Swiss equestrian federation questions neutrality of Godolphin inquiry”. Yes indeedy. The Swiss are pissed...

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