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FIA clubs recommend legal action over Ben Sulayem accusations

FIA member clubs and sport federations of the Americas have recommended the governing body takes legal action against those it believes slandered the organisation and its president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

A huge FIA flag flies on the grid

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

In the wake of Ben Sulayem having been cleared of wrongdoing in an investigation relating to allegations of interference in two Formula 1 races last year, a selection of member clubs have issued a strongly-worded letter of support backing him.

Clearly designed to quell any talk of an internal move against Ben Sulayem in the short term, a letter signed by more than 30 representatives of FIA member clubs and sports federations from the Americas has shown emphatic support for him.

And there is a clear message that they are unhappy about recent allegations made against Ben Sulayem, who was investigated after a whistleblower suggested he had interfered with a stewards’ decision at last year’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and also overstepped the mark in signing off the safety certificate of the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix.

In the letter, published on the FIA website, the clubs state that they “recommend that the FIA initiate legal action against those who, without cause, slander the FIA and its leadership.”

This comes after the clubs felt that various reports of the situation surrounding Ben Sulayem were deliberately aimed at trying to hurt the FIA.

The clubs stated: “That accusations of impropriety and unethical practices propagated by some members of the print and digital media were intended for the sole purpose of causing harm to the FIA and its leadership, particularly the President.”

The clubs also fully endorse the findings of the FIA, which cleared Ben Sulayem of acting improperly following a 30-day investigation by the FIA Compliance officer and its six-person Ethics Committee that included interviews with 11 witnesses.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President, FIA

Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President, FIA

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

The letter said that: “The resolution of the Ethics Committee ratifies that the President of the FIA, Mr. Mohammed Ben Sulayem, acted honourably, transparently and independently.

“That the selection of the FIA President is enshrined in the FIA Statutes and is the sole purview of its voting members and is not impacted by those from outside the organization who attempt, for their own self-interest, to intervene.”

It added: “We endorse and ratify our vote of confidence in support of Mr. Mohammed Ben Sulayem, for his stewardship of the FIA and his progress to fulfilling his commitment to transform the FIA in an ethical and transparent manner in order to better serve its members.”

The letter is signed by 34 member clubs and sports federations of the Americas, including representatives of Colombia, Canada, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Peru, Panama, Guatemala, Uruguay, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil,  Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Chile, Belize, Paraguay, Honduras, Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Bolivia, Cayman Islands, Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Antigua.

The list also interestingly includes the signature of Fabiana Ecclestone, the vice president of South America for Sports who is also wife of former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

She has emerged as a potential future presidential candidate, and potentially as early as the next election in 2025 depending on whether or not Ben Sulayem opts to seek a mandate for a second term in charge.

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