APRIL 16, 2008
Mosley to attend Jordan Rally
FIA President Max Mosley has found some more support in the Middle East with an invitation to attend the Jordan Rally between April 24-27. The event will mark the return of the WRC to the Arab World for the first time in 32 years. The last such event was in Morocco in 1975.
The invitation came from HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein, the brother of King Abdullah, who is also the chairman of Jordan Motorsport, a specialist non-profit motor sport company which was established some years ago by the Royal Automobile Club of Jordan (RACJ) with the aim of making Jordan the first Middle Eastern country to host the WRC.
"Max has been a strong friend and ally to Jordan and has supported us since we announced our bid three years ago, so we are delighted that he will be sharing this historic occasion with us," said Prince Feisal.
Jordan Motorsport is not the national sporting authority and does not have a vote on the FIA General Assembly.
This will give Mosley the opportunity to argue that his recent sex scandal has not affected his ability to do the job as FIA President, although this will be a tenuous argument given the automobile clubs that have publicly asked for his resignation.
The RACJ is probably going to be a strong supporter of Mosley as one of his closest political allies in recent years has been Derek Ledger, an FIA Vice-President who represents Jordan on the FIA World Council, and looks after the federation's interests in the Middle East. The 72-year-old former insurance man was president of the RACJ for more than 20 years, and he has much influence in the region.
Mosley remains the target for much criticism and ridicule for his unusual leisure activities and for his refusal to resign from the FIA. The BBC Radio 4 comedy programme "The Now Show" has humorously compared him to Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, saying that the difference between the two men is that Mosley "admits when he has been beaten. Although he is no less keen to stay in office." The comedians went on to say that Mosley has been accused of bringing the sport into disrepute, and added that that this is true.
"The last thing that sado-masochism needed was to be publicly connected to Formula 1."
This is not the kind of publicity that the Formula One group and the F1 teams want to hear.
Another damning comment that has come to light in recent days dates back to 1997 when Jacques Villeneuve ran into trouble with the FIA for using a four-letter word to dsecribe his feelings about FIA rule changes for 1998.
"What bothered me and the World Council," said Mosley at the time, "was that you get these major companies looking to come into Formula 1 and spend untold millions of pounds in sponsorships. And, inevitably, you will always have a few in the company who might be against the idea and the investment and are looking for the merest excuse to exercise a veto. It's clear to the dumbest person you do not want to allow any doubts to build up that could sabotage the level of investment some of these companies are prepared to go to, and careless talk from drivers of Villeneuve's stature, or anybody else for that matter who is high profile and influential, is sending out the wrong messages and giving the sceptics ammunition.
"It is like sawing through the branch you are sitting on. You'd be crazy to do it."