Ben Sulayem: We must stand united against online abuse

Online abuse has become a blight on our sport. The level of sustained toxicity has reached crisis point. It is time for all of us to unite – and to act.

Ben Sulayem: We must stand united against online abuse

Recently one of the FIA female stewards, Silvia Bellot, was the subject of death threats. It is utterly deplorable that a volunteer such as Silvia or any of our marshals and officials, who volunteer their time to allow us to go racing, is the subject of such hatred.

Indeed a number of FIA staff have also been targeted with harassment and hate posts over the past few years.

It is totally unacceptable that our volunteers, officials and employees are subjected to this extreme abuse. It has no place in our sport. It has a devastating effect on our mental health and that of our loved ones.

I will always stand up for my staff and volunteers. And let me be clear – without these people there would be no racing. We have to ask ourselves, who would want to pursue becoming a top official in this environment? The reality is obvious - if this continues it will destroy our sport.

As the referee, and as the President you of course expect people to disagree with the decisions you make. But you should expect that those opinions and comments are respectful. This is increasingly rare.

Only through a collaborative approach will we achieve a measure of success in combatting this scourge on our sport.

We have already initiated that process through the following actions:

  • We have entered into dialogue with social media platforms to play their part and we are beginning work with governments and fellow sports governing bodies to bring them together to make strong commitments for joint action.
  • We are commissioning research via the FIA University into digital hate and toxic commentary specific to sport. This will provide a platform for knowledge sharing, education and prevention.
  • We have partnered with Arwen.ai to utilise their AI software to detect and eradicate abusive content on our own channels.
Mohammed Ben Sulayem greets Mario Andretti

Mohammed Ben Sulayem greets Mario Andretti

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

In the coming months we will be launching a concerted campaign by leveraging the power and reach of our entire federation which numbers 244 motoring and sporting organisations in 146 countries on 5 continents.

This campaign will build on the collaborative work by the FIA and Formula 1 through the Drive It Out initiative.

I will be talking more about this at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix later this month.

Passions run high in sport, but online harassment, abuse and hate speech must not be tolerated.

Everyone in our sport, from the media, teams, drivers and fans has a role to play. We cannot ignore this. I urge the entire motorsport ecosystem to take a stand.

We must call it out. It has to stop.

shares
comments
Mercedes undecided on F1 reserve driver for 2023 amid Ricciardo links
Previous article

Mercedes undecided on F1 reserve driver for 2023 amid Ricciardo links

Next article

Latifi would only consider F1 reserve role if it offered path back to a seat

Latifi would only consider F1 reserve role if it offered path back to a seat
Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022? Plus

Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022?

Who was the fastest driver in 2022? Everyone has an opinion, but what does the stopwatch say? Obviously, differing car performance has an effect on ultimate laptime – but it’s the relative speed of each car/driver package that’s fascinating and enlightening says ALEX KALINAUCKAS

Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return Plus

Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return

He has more starts without a podium than anyone else in Formula 1 world championship history, but Nico Hulkenberg is back for one more shot with Haas. After spending three years on the sidelines, the revitalised German is aiming to prove to his new team what the F1 grid has been missing

Formula 1
Jan 29, 2023
The potential-laden F1 car that Ferrari neglected Plus

The potential-laden F1 car that Ferrari neglected

The late Mauro Forghieri played a key role in Ferrari’s mid-1960s turnaround, says STUART CODLING, and his pretty, intricate 1512 was among the most evocative cars of the 1.5-litre era. But a victim of priorities as Formula 1 was deemed less lucrative than success in sportscars, its true potential was never seen in period

Formula 1
Jan 28, 2023
Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss Plus

Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss

OPINION: Fred Vasseur has spent only a few weeks as team principal for the Ferrari Formula 1 team, but is already intent on taking the Scuderia back to the very top. And despite it being arguably the most demanding job in motorsport, the Frenchman is relishing the challenge

Formula 1
Jan 27, 2023
The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023 Plus

The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023

Changes to the regulations for season two of Formula 1's ground-effects era aim to smooth out last year’s troubles and shut down loopholes. But what areas have been targeted, and what impact will this have?

Formula 1
Jan 26, 2023
Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history? Plus

Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history?

Who are the quickest drivers in Formula 1 history? LUKE SMITH asked a jury of experienced and international panel of experts and F1 insiders. Some of them have worked closely with F1’s fastest-ever drivers – so who better to vote on our all-time top 50? We’re talking all-out speed here rather than size of trophy cabinet, so the results may surprise you…

Formula 1
Jan 25, 2023
One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1 Plus

One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1

OPINION: During what is traditionally a very quiet time of year in the Formula 1 news cycle, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been generating headlines. He’s been commenting on massive topics in a championship that loves them, but also addressing necessary smaller changes too. Here we suggest a further refinement that would be a big boon to fans

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
How can McLaren keep hold of Norris? Plus

How can McLaren keep hold of Norris?

Lando Norris is no longer the young cheeky-chappy at McLaren; he’s now the established ace. And F1's big guns will come calling if the team can’t give him a competitive car. Here's what the team needs to do to retain its prize asset

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023