MAY 29, 2008

Big FIA clubs demand that Mosley quit

Twenty-four FIA clubs in 22 countries have signed a letter to FIA President Max Mosley in response to his recent letter to the FIA club presidents. The clubs involved represent around 85% of the total membership of the FIA, based on motorist members, but they control only around 25% of the votes at the General Assembly. The letter demands that Mosley give "an immediate agreement" to step down.

"The FIA is in a critical situation," it says. "Its image, reputation and credibility are being severely eroded. Every additional day that this situation persists, the damage increases. There is no way back."

The signatories regret Mosley's decision not to accept the compromise put forward by the members of the World Mobility Council, and his decision to remain in office until the end of his term, "in spite of the severe damage being inflicted to the FIA".

The letter implies that Mosley is "putting personal considerations before the interests of the FIA and its member clubs".

The signatories go on to say that there is no divergence of interests between the clubs as Mosley suggested in his letter and argue that Bernie Ecclestone's response gives a better indication of the true state of play between the governing body and F1's commercial rights holders than does the crisis scenario described in Mosley's letter.

"We take note of the letter sent by B. Ecclestone to all member clubs, stating his support for the FIA as the sole body governing international motor sport and his willingness to continue working with the FIA, irrespective of the result of the Extraordinary General Assembly on June 3rd," the clubs say. "We believe that his explanations put in due perspective the state of the relationship between the FIA and the Formula 1 world, taking away relevance to many of the arguments you make in your letter to justify your continuity. We take note of his point on the importance that the FIA be led by a credible and respected president."

The idea of a war between Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone is clearly not being treated as credible by the clubs and may even be working against Mosley, because it is now being interpreted as an attempt to manipulate the membership to vote for him.

"We strongly believe that the only respectable way forward for the FIA, and for yourself, is to have an orderly transition, with an immediate agreement and your commitment to step down."

The letter is signed by representatives of the AAA and AATA from the United States, Germany's ADAC, Japan's JAF, Canada's CAA, Brazil's CCB, the KNAC of the Netherlands, Sweden's M, Hungary's MAK, Israel's MEMSI, the Austrian club OEMTC, Spain's RACC and RACE, Belgium's TCB, the Swiss TCS, Singapore's AAS, Finland's AL, Denmark's FDM, France's FFA and FFSA and India's FIAA. These are largely mobility clubs, although some also have votes for the sporting power as well. What is significant is that a number of other clubs that have come out publicly against Mosley in recent weeks are not signatories to the letter, notably New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

They were either not asked to sign or decided to keep their own counsel until the General Assembly.

There is no question that the primary motivation amongst FIA members next week will be fear. Some clubs are worried about their own vested interests, others about not being on the winning side. Others are worried that the vote could destroy the FIA and lead to the creation of a parallel organisation or that the federation would survive as a unit, but would lose its legitimacy.

While Mosley has played up the threats to the FIA and claimed he is only man to fight them; his rivals are now beginning to argue that he could ruin the entire organisation if he does not step down.

These thoughts are not being vocalised to any great extent, particularly not in the letter, but Gilles Gaignault, a former FIA spokesman who went on to own the GBDA Formula 3000 team (now DAMS), has been arguing on that there is a disaster scenario ahead.

In an article headlined "Is Max Mosley going to destroy the FIA?" Gaignault argues that Mosley, "deprived of all credibility, has still not learned the lessons of the situation and persists in wanting to obtain a vote of confidence." He goes on to say that the birth of a new parallel federation would destroy 104 years of building up the FIA simply because of the obstinate behaviour "of a man who no matter what happens, can no longer do his job".

Clearly, the pressure is building and by going public the clubs are obviously trying to give smaller clubs the confidence to vote with them to remove Mosley from office.

Mosley in the meantime continues with his legal moves in an effort to get rulings to back up his arguments that the articles published about him were an invasion or privacy and defamatory.

He may win these cases, but for the FIA membership this may no longer seem to be very important.