The FIA says sexist comments made by Mohammed Ben Sulayem 20 years before he became president of the governing body do not reflect his current beliefs.
Ben Sulayem made the comments on his former official website, mohammedbensulayem.com. They came to attention today when they were republished by The Times.
An archived copy of the website from May 2002 shows that the then-rally driver and multiple Middle East rally champion made a disparaging comment about women on a page entitled ‘likes & dislikes’.
On the page, Ben Sulayem says that he does not like talking about money and “nor do I like women who think they are smarter than men, for they are not in truth”.
When contacted by RaceFans, the FIA said that the comment was not representative of Ben Sulayem’s views in his role as head of the governing body.
“The remarks in this archived website from 2001 do not reflect the president’s beliefs,” the FIA spokesperson said.
“He has a strong record on promoting women and equality in sport, which he is happy to be judged on. It was a central part of his manifesto and actions taken this year and the many years he served as vice president for sport prove this.”
Ben Sulayem was elected as president of the FIA by its members in December 2021, the week following the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He replaced outgoing Jean Todt and has been for more active than his predecessor in matters involving Formula 1, courting some controversy in recent months.
After attracting criticism last June for comments made regarding Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton advocating for social and environmental causes, the FIA president stressed in that he was committed to “diversity and inclusion” within the governing body.
“As a driver, I have always believed in sport as a catalyst of progress in society,” Ben Sulayem stated in a post on social media last year. “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.”
Under Ben Sulayem, the FIA appointed its first female CEO, Natalie Robyn, in the governing body’s history. Ben Sulayem also fulfilled a manifesto pledge to create the FIA’s first equality, diversity and inclusion advisor when Tanya Kutsenko was appointed last year.
Ben Sulayem’s term as FIA president will run until 2025, where he will stand for election for a second term unless no one in the organisation stands against him.
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