APRIL 18, 2008

Mosley aiming to fight confidence vote

There are clear signs emerging that FIA President Max Mosley is not intending to disappear gracefully at the FIA General Assembly in June, despite the fact that clubs which represent more than 60% of the FIA membership have either requested or demanded his resignation.

Mosley's actions suggest that he feels that he can convince FIA delegates that the key point is not that he damaged the FIA reputation, but rather that he was the victim of an invasion of his privacy, and possibly even a plot to remove him from office.

Mosley continues to try to get the video footage of his activities banned. This failed in Britain, although he did receive a fairly supportive judgement. He is now applying for a ban in France. If successful this will create a "paper trail" of legal judgements that Mosley will no doubt try to use to support his arguments and that it all has nothing to do with his ability to run the sport.

The inconvenient fact remains that if there was a trap, he still fell into it and by doing so raised questions about his judgement and his suitability to hold the position.

The fact that he has since refused to resign has done enormous damage to the image of the FIA and mobilised a number of clubs against him.

His invitation to go to the Jordan Rally is, however, an indication that he wants people to see that it is business as usual, so that he can show the clubs in June that the scandal has had no effect. There will, whatever happens, be one effect as the FIA pays for delegates to attend the General Assembly and thus hundreds of thousands of dollars of FIA money will have to be spent to assemble the delegates to discuss Mosley's future. This expenditure would not have been necessary but for the scandal. This undermines the argument that this is a private matter and should not have any effect on the FIA.

At the same time we are hearing whispers that there are struggles going on within the FIA about what can appear on the agenda at the General Assembly, which suggests that there may be attempts to avoid the issues using procedural rules.

Who is to say, for example, that Mosley has to resign if he loses a vote of confidence?

The vote at the General Assembly is not based on the size of the clubs involved, but rather on the number of clubs. Thus the Vatican and San Marino have the same basic power as the United States of America or China. Smaller clubs are much easier to influence because they depend heavily on big events and in the past FIA politicians have used the granting of events as a lever on clubs to make sure that they do what is wanted of them.

Winning the vote may thus be possible, but that could create more problems than it solves. In a worst case scenario, this could result in the FIA coming apart at the seams as disenchanted clubs leave the federation. The FIA's power is based on recognition of its activities by bodies such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe, governments and automobile companies. If these organisations chose to get involved in supporting a new grouping there is no reason why the FIA should survive, although in all probability such a situation would result in legal chaos, as the FIA's commercial arrangemnets are worth vast sums of money to promoters, who will wnat to protect their investments.

It is worth noting that The Times (a favoured leaking place for Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone) ran a story that suggested that Ecclestone "is turning up the pressure to resign on Max Mosley" saying that Bernie is "increasingly alarmed at the reaction" and quoting "a close friend of Ecclestone" as saying that "President Mosley is in danger of becoming motor racing's President Mugabe." The article also said that the "drip, drip of unrest from within the boardrooms of some of Formula One's big sponsors is also having an effect" and added that "Ecclestone did not become a billionaire building Formula 1 into box-office business without being astute and his soundings tell him that the time has come for Mosley to accept defeat."