NEWS FEATURE

The new FIA

The reform of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and the disappearance of its politically-independent - yet financially-dependent - sporting federation, the FISA is a great step forward for motor sport.

The changes which were voted by the FIA General Assembly in June and which came into effect on October 1 mean that the power of sporting interests with the old FIA are finally being recognize. In the old FIA structure many of the committee members were sports-orientated and the FIA finances were kept afloat by money which comes in from the sale of Formula 1 television rights. This was at the root of the FISA-FOCA war of 1981-82 and led to the Concorde Agreement. That document continues, although it has been modified. Under the current deal FIA gets 30% of the sale of TV rights - which is many millions of dollars every year. Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Promotion and Administration company, based in London receives 23.1% and the teams get 46.9% divided between them as laid down in the secret schedules of the Concorde Agreement.[QL]

Thus the reformed FIA gives sport the power it deserves. It is no longer a commission of the FIA it is one of two divisions with commissions of its own.[QL]

The reform of the organisation is as much a question of image as it is of actual change. Since FISA was set up in 1978 there was been confusion over which organisation does what and how they are linked. With just one organisation it is easy to understand.

The reforms have also seen a change in the FIA guard with a lot of the older traditional FIA club men being replaced by younger men who have proved their qualifications in many different areas, but who have been drawn together by their common love of motor sport.

The old FIA was not much more than an international gentlemen's club with wealthy amateurs directing the sport - often not always understanding what was going on. This has gone. The new generation led by Max Mosley and men such as Sweden's Lars Osterlind, Finland's Kari Sohlberg, Japan's Mr Iwasaki, Leopoldo Barbosa of Venezuela and Mexico's Jose Abed presents a much more professional and aware organisation. They are more professional, more open to new ideas and have already proved themselves to be willing to take strong action if necessary.

The new FIA World Motor Sports Council also reflects that the sport is much more international than it used to be. In the old days Europe was completely dominant and representation at FISA reflected that 'Old World' dominance. Today the World Council has representatives from all over the world, allowing the lesser known regions to have their say. The WMSC now includes members from as far afield as Jordan, Venezuela, India, Mexico and Poland while also retaining representation from the big old member clubs in Britain, France, Germany and Belgium. Thus the balance of power has switched a little to reflect a more real situation in the world of motor sport.

All in all, the membership, the organisation and the financing of the new FIA makes it a much better and a much more efficient body to run world motor sport.

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