Thank you for your letter dated 17th September.
Of course, I fully respect your club’s decision to endorse Jean Todt in the 2013 Presidential election. However, I am sorry that I cannot agree with you that the support agreement you promoted at meetings in Montevideo in March and in Buenos Aires in August “was a legitimate way” to express the opinions of FIA regions III and IV.
The use of support agreements or letters well in advance of the Presidential election period is, in my opinion, a serious breach of the FIA laws, rules and regulations which threatens to undermine the fairness and transparency of the Federation’s 2013 Presidential election.
The President’s responsibility according to Article 20 of the FIA statutes is “to act in all circumstances on behalf of the FIA within the limits of its business”. Securing support for his re-election whilst travelling at the FIA’s expense to regional events organised by FIA staff, in my view, fails to do this. I believe these actions also breach Article 2.4 of the FIA’s Code of Ethics to avoid conflicts of interest. Furthermore I am concerned that by requiring a public declaration of voting intention prior to the election on December 6 th , the support letter undermines the FIA’s commitment to a secret ballot as required by Article 7 of the Federation’s Internal Regulations.
I am not alone in having concerns about the inappropriate nature of the support letter. These are shared not just by club representatives that attended your regional meetings but also by clubs from other FIA regions. For example, Mr Nizar Jivani, President of the AA of Tanzania, raised the legitimacy of your support letter with the FIA Ethics Committee in advance of a similar regional meeting of clubs held in Botswana at the end of August.
Mr Jivani’s letter was shared with Mr Thierry Willemarck, President of FIA Region 1, which has the largest number of FIA clubs. In reply Mr Willemarck confirmed that he “does agree with the concerns” of Mr Jivani and that he “had been asked to do something similar in Region 1 [but] refused”. I think Mr Willemarck’s response is entirely correct and commendable.
I have also been told that the Montevideo support letter was sent by Mr Graham Stoker, the FIA Deputy President for Sport to Mr Morrie Chandler, Vice President for Sport (Asia Pacific). Subsequently another letter offering “unswerving support” to Jean Todt was signed by some clubs attending an FIA regional meeting held in Bangkok in April. I believe this shows that, far from being spontaneous expressions of support which Jean Todt now maintains he could do nothing to stop, the letters appear to have been subject to co-ordinated action by the President’s own team.
In your letter you mention that a similar support initiative for Jean Todt was promoted during the previous election in 2009. This may be the case but it is completely irrelevant. In 2009 Jean Todt was not serving as President of the FIA and did not have the statutory obligations I refer to above.
A further important point is that in 2009 the FIA’s election procedure was different. There was no requirement four years ago to obtain letters of support from 26 clubs in order to be nominated as a candidate. This new threshold requirement is being used for the first time in this year’s election. On 6 th September the 2013 election officially began when the FIA membership received a letter from the FIA Administration with instructions about the new support requirement with related nomination forms.
This new election procedure significantly increases doubts about the legitimacy of the support letters promoted at FIA regional meetings in Latin America and Asia. By securing early pledges for Jean Todt well before the election process was officially launched, the support letters make it harder for rival candidates to secure the necessary nominations. In my view, this represents a serious interference in the 2013 FIA elections that could not have happened at all in 2009.
I strongly believe that the integrity of the FIA election process is of paramount importance. The FIA is the key regulator of motor sport’s most prestigious world championships. It has the duty to ensure the fairness of these competitions, to discipline those that break the relevant sporting regulations, and to provide a right of appeal. The same principles should be applied to the FIA’s most important internal competition, its own presidential election.
The FIA must be seen to be trusted as capable of running all its competitions fairly, transparently and according to the rules. If not its entire credibility is put at risk.
To use a sporting metaphor the support letters are like an illegal practice or a ‘jump start’ that has given Jean Todt an unfair advantage in the FIA’s election race. They should not have happened, and the breach of the rules should be investigated and subject to an appropriate penalty. As you will know this matter is now subject to an inquiry by the Ethics Committee. I fully respect the Committee’s need to deliberate carefully on the issues raised.
However, now that you have chosen to write to the FIA membership I think it is only right and proper that I also explain the background to my complaint. I think at the very least it would be in the best interest of the FIA if all th e support letters signed before 6 th September now be revoked. By declaring them to be null and void, all the clubs involved would be released from any obligation they feel they may have unwittingly made before the election process had officially begun. The FIA membership can then engage in the election process transparently, without prior commitment, and make their choice based on a fair comparison of the candidates and their respective manifestoes. I trust you accept that this is what the FIA’s 2013 Presidential Election should be all about.
Candidate in the 2013 FIA Presidential Election