FIA chief Ben Sulayem comes under fire for old sexist comments

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FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has come under fire as a result of alleged sexist comments made on his old website, which stated that he did not like ‘women who think they are smarter than men’. The 61-year-old former rally champion is said to have expressed negative views about clever women on the site, which is now inactive.

An archived version of the website from 2001 shows that Ben Sulayem wrote his likes and dislikes were “basically simple”, adding: “I love the desert and I love meeting real people.” However, according to the site, he did not like talking “about money, nor do I like women who think they are smarter than men, for they are not in truth.”

The alleged comments made by Ben Sulayem have already been addressed by a spokesperson for the FIA, who told the PA news agency: “The remarks in this archived website from 2001 do not reflect the president’s beliefs.

“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.”

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The website’s contents were revealed by The Times on Friday, marking the second time in a week that Ben Sulayem has riled F1 chiefs after insisting on Monday that no organisation would be purchasing the rights to the sport for what he called an ‘inflated’ price tag of around £16.4billion ($20bn) unless they are able to provide a clear plan for the future.

In response to reports that the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia were exploring a lucrative takeover deal to buy F1, Ben Sulayem tweeted: “As the custodians of motorsport, the FIA, as a non-profit organisation, is cautious about alleged inflated price tags of $20bn being put on F1.

“Any potential buyer is advised to apply common sense, consider the greater good of the sport and come with a clear, sustainable plan – not just a lot of money. It is our duty to consider what the future impact will be for promoters in terms of increased hosting fees and other commercial costs, and any adverse impact that it could have on fans.”

Ben Sulayem’s tweets were met with a firmly-worded letter from F1 bosses addressed to the FIA executive team, which read: “Formula One has the exclusive right to exploit the commercial rights in the FIA Formula One World Championship under a 100-year deal.

“Further, the FIA has given unequivocal undertakings that it will not do anything to prejudice the ownership, management and/or exploitation of those rights. We consider that those comments, made from the FIA president’s official social media account, interfere with those rights in an unacceptable manner.”

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