FIA threatens drastic European date cuts

Europe will be allowed to stage just two Grands Prix in future if an EU dispute with the sport's governing body is not resolved

FIA threatens drastic European date cuts

As the row over the control of the sport and its commercial rights hotted up, FIA president Max Mosley said his organisation had become increasingly frustrated in its attempts to have a meaningful dialogue with the European Union.

If key issues are not resolved he said the governing body would start treating the EU as just one country and under FIA rules it would only be allowed a maximum of two races a year. That would leave nine events in Britain, Italy (2 races), Germany (2 races), France, Austria, Spain, Belgium fighting over two dates on the calendar.

Monaco is the jewel in the FIA crown and not thought to be in danger while Hungary is outside the EU.

Some dismissed Mosleys comments as sabre-rattling, saying Formula One cannot afford to reduce its calendar so drastically because there are not a sufficient number of quality replacements waiting in the wings.

At the heart of the row is the control of the sports multi-million pound income from television. The EU wants more than one governing body in each country and the commercial rights to be handled differently to the current process controlled by the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone.

It has accused Formula 1 and other sports of monopolistic practices. In his toughest attack to date Mosley said Brussels bureaucrats did not understand what they are doing, accused them of making 'ridiculous suggestions,' possessing a 'high level of stupidity' and issuing dictats from Brussels without moving from their desks to study the sport.

Mosley said the FIA were not only frustrated by the EU's stance but their unwillingness to hold meaningful discussion. If the EU suggestions were adopted, he said, the sport would dissolve into the same chaos that has consumed boxing.

'You can no more have two governing bodies for a sport than you can have two governments for a country. A government only has a monopoly because it is democratically elected and it is exactly the same with our sports federations,' said Mosley.

He said the FIA would consider treating the EU as one country just as all American states are dealt with collectively.

'It would be absurd to have nine F1 world championship events within a single country. Faced with the choice we cannot, and our general assembly will not, allow 15 countries to dictate to the other 104 [in the FIA] how the statutes should be.

'The FIA has made clear it would not renew the contracts for any of its Formula One world championship races in the EU until the laws affecting the dispute were clarified satisfactorily.'

Mosley has said the FIA is in talks with other international sporting bodies in order to try and resolve the dispute. He said the FIA planned to host a meeting in Paris on the governance of sport later this year.

This would involve the IOC, FIFA and IAAF, said Mosley. He said UEFA was currently working out its own direction in this dispute. Mosley also said that he had urged the EU to throw open its planned hearing in Brussels on May 10-12 on competition in sport.

'We asked them to let us in, or to let in the media, but they want to hold the hearing in secret,' he said.

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