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20 UK MPs Express "Grave Concerns" over FIA, F1 Role in Sportswashing in Bahrain, KSA

2023-03-03 - 1:25 p

Bahrain Mirror: 20 UK Members of Parliament have expressed "grave concerns" to FIA and Formula 1 bosses over their role in "sportswashing" ahead of the 2023 season starting in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

This came in a letter sent by MPs, including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his shadow chancellor John McDonnell to F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and FIA single-seater chief Nikolas Tombazis, in which they called for "an independent inquiry into the championship and governing body's activities in countries with questionable human rights records".

The MPs wrote that they "condemn F1's refusal to engage with key stakeholders including human rights groups, such as the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy when awarding Bahrain the longest contract in F1 history [until 2036], breaching F1's own policy".

They called on F1 and the FIA to establish an independent enquiry to assess the "adequacy and effectiveness of your current human rights policy, or lack thereof," and "use all available leverage to make representations to Bahrain for them to immediately and unconditionally release political prisoners".

The letter signs off with: "Multimillion-dollar profits must not come at the expense of human rights," criticizing F1 holding of races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

"If Lewis Hamilton can speak out, why can't you?"

The lead signatory, Lord Scriven, said: "We are asking them to do things to improve the way the sport operates around human rights, they are not extreme or radical things, they are issues that we would expect any sporting organization with any moral leadership at the heart of how motor sport's is governed and operates."

Sayed Ahmed Al-Wadaei, the director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, added: "MPs are right to expose Formula 1's role in sportswashing Bahrain and Saudi Arabia's rights record.

"F1 leadership cannot simply claim that their presence in these countries has a positive impact, when evidence demonstrates otherwise."

Arabic Version