UK MPs express ‘serious concerns’ over FIA and F1’s role in ‘sportswashing’

The 20-strong cross-party group of MPs, including former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell, called for an independent inquiry into the league and governing body’s activities in countries with “questionable human rights records”.

This comes ahead of the opening round of the 2023 campaign in Bahrain this weekend ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on March 19.

In a letter to F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and FIA single-seater boss Nicolas Tombazis, MPs refer to the execution of 81 prisoners in Saudi Arabia in one day in 2022.

They already note that Bahrain has the highest rate of incarceration of its population of any country in the Middle East and North African territory, with around 1300 political prisoners.

The MPs write that they “condemn F1’s refusal to engage with key stakeholders, including human rights groups such as the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy in awarding Bahrain the largest contract in F1’s history (until 2036), in breach of F1’s own policy.”

They are calling on F1 and the FIA ​​to launch an independent investigation to assess the “adequacy and effectiveness of your current human rights policy, or lack thereof”.

In addition, the MPs urge the two parties to “use every available leverage to make representations in Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release political prisoners”.

The letter reads: “Multi-million dollar profits must not come at the expense of human rights.

MPs criticized F1 for Bahrain and Saudi Arabia

Photo: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

“You have a duty to ensure that your presence has a positive impact, which will not be possible while political prisoners remain behind bars in Bahrain.

“If Lewis Hamilton can talk, why can’t you?”

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, added: “MPs are right to expose Formula 1’s role in Bahraini and Saudi rights laundering.

“F1 leadership cannot simply claim that their presence in these countries is having a positive impact when the evidence shows otherwise.

“F1 continues to benefit from brutal Gulf autocrats, making many millions while victims pay the price.

“When Lewis Hamilton is able to speak out in the face of injustice, he sets a moral standard for F1 management to follow.”

The chief signatory, Lord Scriven, said: “We are asking them to do things to improve the way sport works around human rights, they are not extreme or radical things, they are issues that we would expect from any sporting organization with any ethics leadership. at the heart of how motorsport is governed and operated.”

In response, an FIA spokesman said: “At the pinnacle of motorsport, F1 events take place in a huge range of different countries and cultures around the world.

Officials, including the right of Saudi Arabia on the grid before the start

Officials including the Saudi rights to the grid before the start

Photo: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“We believe that the most fundamental goal of motorsport, and all sports, is based on the desire to increase our common ground and cultivate the principles of cooperation and community between people.

“The FIA, as with other international sports federations, cannot interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.

“This independence from the affairs of states, as underlined by the International Olympic Committee, does not mean, however, that we are insensitive to possible hardships suffered by those concerned.

“The FIA ​​will continue to work on projects that bring positive benefits to wider society, always acting within its scope as the regulator of world motor sport.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *