FIA’s Ben Sulayem backtracks from controversial comments on inclusion

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FIA’s Ben Sulayem backtracks from controversial comments on inclusion

Formula 1

FIA’s Ben Sulayem backtracks from controversial comments on inclusion

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FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has issued a tweet clarifying his stance on drivers supporting greater inclusivity, after previously stating they shouldn’t impose their beliefs on others.

In an interview with GrandPrix247 — that RACER has had verified by the FIA as containing accurate quotes — Ben Sulayem suggested the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Lando Norris should not speak out about their beliefs as much as they do.

“Niki Lauda and Alain Prost only cared about driving,” Ben Sulayem said. “Now, Vettel drives a rainbow bicycle, Lewis is passionate about human rights and Norris addresses mental health. Everybody has the right to think. To me, it is about deciding whether we should impose our beliefs in something over the sport all the time.

“I am from an Arabian culture. I am international and Muslim. I do not impose my beliefs on other people. No way! Never. If you look at my operation in the UAE: 16 nationalities! Name me one federation that has that many nationalities.

“On top, there are over 34 percent women and seven religions. And even more Christians than Muslims. I am proud because it creates credibility and merit.

“But do I go and impose my beliefs? No. The rules are there, even now there are issues when it comes to, for example, jewelry, I didn’t write that.”

The interview was carried out in Monaco but came at the start of Pride month when multiple teams are running symbols of support on their cars and Vettel himself appeared on the cover of LBGTQ+ magazine Attitude.

Amid questions about the comments, the FIA president then issued a clarification via social media as he felt his comments had been misinterpreted.

“As a driver, I have always believed in sport as a catalyst of progress in society,” he tweeted. “That is why promoting sustainability, diversity and inclusion is a key priority of my mandate. In the same way, I value the commitment of all drivers and champions for a better future.”

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