We are halfway through the Argentine high goal season, but many things have occurred over the last two months. After the restrictions imposed by the UK Home Office to the HPA regarding working permits for foreign players and grooms, the Argentine Association of Polo made changes which would affect foreign players who decide to play in Argentina.
English players have been the most affected, as they now have to pay a fee of 85,000 ARS (around 4,250 EUR/5,000 USD) to play official tournaments in Argentina, or a fee of 42,500 ARS to play private competitions. After a new edition of the El Remanso Cup in Lobos, Charlie Hanbury spoke to Pololine about this issue.
What do you think about the reciprocity that the AAP has established for English players who play in Argentina?
I personally don’t see this as reciprocal. In England everyone (regardless of nationality, sex or age) has to pay an HPA handicap and a club membership. In Argentina everyone has to pay an AAP membership and a club membership. There is now a new tax for being an male English player.
How do you think English polo will be affected?
I do not believe that English polo will be affected. If anything, I believe that less English players will go to Argentina to play the tournaments there, which will mean less patrons to make teams, so less opportunities for players of all nationalities.
How do you think both associations (HPA and AAP) should tackle the issue?
Polo is a mess. It is not in a good situation. There are less patrons and less people playing at all levels. The HPA and the AAP both need to think about the future of polo before its too late. I think the AAP’s new tax will only discourage people from playing the sport.
Do you think the HPA is taking the best decisions considering the development of English polo?
The HPA is fighting with the Home Office to try and ensure that foreign players and grooms can continue to come and work in the UK. Sadly, until the Home Office make a decision we are all left waiting to see. Hopefully, the HPA and their legal team can help persuade them that our sport needs foreign players and grooms.
What do you think are the main aspects that need to be solved?
The first thing that needs to be understood is that the VISA issue is not due to the HPA, but due to the British Government and it’s Home Office. I am not sure that this is understood clearly by all of the polo world yet.
Do you think the HPA needs to make changes?
I think that the sport as a whole needs changes, not one particular governing body. All the Associations and players need to come together and find a way to help the sport grow, because at the moment it is in a bad place.