Luís Júdice Faísca Resigns as Portuguese Dressage Team Selector

Sat, 05/11/2024 - 10:18
Luís Júdice Faísca  at the 2023 CDIO Compiègne :: Photo © Astrid Appels

Luís Júdice Faísca has resigned as vice president of the Portuguese Equestrian Federation (FEP) and national selector for the dressage team.

He did so on 9 May 2024 via an open letter sent to the Portuguese equestrian publication Equisport citing "clear abuse of power and usurpation of functions" as reason for his sudden resignation.

Clash with Kyrklund

Luis António Júdice Pontes Faisca stated frankly that his role as national selector has clashed with that of the team trainer, Kyra Kyrklund.

In his letter he wrote, "a result of lobbying and external pressures that, unfortunately, occur at these times, in clear abuse of power and usurpation of functions, contrary to the FEP statutes, there was meddling in the organization of the sport and competitive participation of the National Teams, disavowing and disrespecting me by attributing manifestly excessive and almost absolute powers, which overlap with mine, to the national coach of the senior team with regard to the training plan preparation and selection of the team for the Games." (Google translate from Portuguese)

Faisca does not hold back in marking Kyrklund as the culprit of his dissatisfaction and resignation. 

"The coach has done everything at her pleasure, adopting behaviours of total disrespect for the position I occupy and randomly changing the plan drawn up with the Athletes, to which she had given her opinion and agreement," he stated.

Animal Welfarists in Compiègne

Faisca stated that Kyrklund did not want to send a team to the CDIO 5* FEI Nations Cup in Compiègne because "she was afraid that the “animal welfarists” would be present at the competition!"

He continued, "Portugal is rarely invited to official 5* competitions, this year 7 of the 8 officials who will judge the Olympic Games were officiating in Compiègne, and the non-attendance , at the last minute, to a competition of this relevance that would certainly not give a good image of Portugal."

Portugal did compete with a team at the 2024 CDIO Compiegne and finished 9th in the nations' ranking in a highly competitive field. The original team entered included Maria Caetano - (Horizonte), Sebastiao Lucas Lopes (Inquieto Lezirias) and Joao Moreira (Escobello). Last minute Horizonte was replaced by Hit Plus and Lopes dropped out and got replaced by Carlos Pinto on Joolz de la Gesse. 

Carlos Pinto on Joolz de la Gesse for
Team Portugal at the 2024 CDIO Compiegne
Faisca explained that "on the deadline, after some contacts and thanks to the understanding and nationalism of the Athletes, it was possible to present a team at the Compiègne Nations Cup, however, it was understood that the national coach would not be present!"

Faisca also accuses Kyra of not staying till the end of the CDI Hagen where a group of Portuguese Olympic team candidates was competing. "It is very strange that as this was the competition “chosen” by the coach, she decided to abandon it before its end, with the teams that were qualified for the CDI4 Special Grand Prix* were deprived of the coach's presence in this important event," he wrote.

Altered Olympic Selection Criteria?

Faisca's biggest concern seems to be potentially changed Portuguese Olympic team selection criteria. 

"With even greater gravity is the fact that a few days ago I received, through various channels, information that the coach intends to change the Circular published in January 19, 2024, which contains the “Selection Criteria for the Olympic Games – Paris 2024'," he wrote. "This intention is, to say the least, surprising and constitutes, in itself, an intolerable lack of transparency and an injustice for all Athletes who are striving to meet such criteria."

Faisca alleges that these changes are made to help those riders currently failing to meet the set criteria. He even alludes to Kyrklund's personal connections, i.e. her private students and ties with the Portuguese Lusitano Breeding Society. 

He concludes that he is now is presented with "an intolerable situation of conflict of interests, a situation that is unequivocally contrary to the principles of legality, impartiality and transparency that I will not give up, which is why I cannot agree with this situation." He therefore resigns from his position.


In the final paragraph of his open letter, Faisca wrote that "I must emphasize that everything I said above is duly documented, and I am naturally available to provide clarifications before the FEP Board Meeting, the Portuguese Olympic Committee or at any other institution or headquarters, if necessary, reserving myself the right to make this letter public, in order to defend my reputation, the rigor, transparency and professionalism."

Kyrklund as Portuguese team trainer at the
2023 European Championships in Riesenbeck
Eurodressage asked Faisca to send more factual details about his allegations. It received this reply: "My resignation letter is very clear, it is self-explanatory and the data mentioned in the letter is factual.  This is an internal matter for the Federation that has no interest in having more publicity than it already has."

When asked if it is true that Kyra did not want to send a team to the CDIO Compiegne, she told Eurodressage, "No it’s not true. I did mention it (the animal welfarists) on one of our meetings with the riders but that was only to make them aware of the current, unfortunate situation with a lot of criticism towards dressage. I don’t personally have any problems to stand for how “my” riders ride."

When asked why two last minute changes were made to the Portuguese team in Compiegne, Kyra explained that "You have to ask Luis Faisca about the selected team as he was the sole selector for all the Portuguese team competitions."

Photos © Astrid Appels

Related Links
Portugal and Finland Confirmed to Have Qualified Team for 2024 Olympics
Portuguese Equestrian Federation: "Trust on the Consistency and Stability of the Selection Process"
Portuguese Short Listed Riders for the 2023 European Dressage Championships