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FIA says sexist comments 'do not reflect' beliefs of boss Mohammed Ben Sulayem

FIA spokesperson on sexist comments attributed to president Mohammed Ben Sulayem: "The remarks in this archived website from 2001 do not reflect the president's beliefs"

President of FIA Mohammed Ben Sulayem addresses a media conference ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps racetrack in Spa, Belgium, Friday, Aug. 26, 2022. German manufacturer Audi will enter Formula One in 2026 in line with new engine regulations, chairman Markus Duesmann said on Friday. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
Image: President of FIA Mohammed Ben Sulayem

The FIA says sexist comments regarding 'smart women' from Mohammed Ben Sulayem do not reflect the beliefs of the governing body's president.

Ben Sulayem was quoted as saying he does "not like women who think they are smarter than men" on an archived version of his old website, marking the latest in a series of controversial incidents since his appointment.

"The remarks in this archived website from 2001 do not reflect the president's beliefs," said an FIA spokesperson.

"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 recently angered senior F1 officials for raising concerns about the potential consequences of an "inflated" takeover following reports of a $20bn (£16.3bn) Saudi Arabian bid to buy the sport's rights from Liberty Media.

F1 issued a warning letter to the FIA in which it was stated Ben Sulayem had "overstepped" the mark.

Earlier this month he also caused division by suggesting drivers would face sanctions for breaking rules on political statements.

The 61-year-old took over from Jean Todt as FIA president in December 2021 in the wake of the controversial conclusion to the season in Abu Dhabi, where Max Verstappen claimed his first World Championship title following a dramatic final lap.

Ben Sulayem had also found himself central to division over the prospect of new entrants when he took to Twitter to release a statement expressing his "surprise" at the "adverse reaction" to a bid from American team owner Michael Andretti as part of a partnership with General Motors, with several of the sport's 10 current teams understood to have held reservations.

Born in Dubai, the 14-time Middle East rally champion was previously vice-president for sport at the FIA, in addition to a member of the World Motor Sport Council.

Among his election promises for the four-year term, Ben Sulayem vowed to double motorsport participation, put the best-practice governance structures in place, and strengthen diversity and inclusion.

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