‘Arrogant’ Stefano Domenicali ‘damaging the reputation’ of F1, claims UK politician

Henry Valantine
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.

Stefano Domenicali has been CEO of Formula 1 since 2021, having previously been Ferrari team principal.

F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali has been accused of “damaging the reputation” of the sport by a British politician, in comments regarding ‘sportswashing’.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Scriven secured a debate regarding sportswashing, the term used to describe nations or states that look to burnish their reputation on a global stage through sport, and while sports like golf and football have been under the spotlight, F1 formed a key part of that debate.

F1 CEO scrutinised over claims of ongoing ‘sportswashing’

In a letter seen by PlanetF1.com, Lord Scriven wrote to Domenicali to confirm a debate would take place in the UK House of Lords after he claimed the F1 CEO did not engage with him.

In the debate itself, he accused the former Ferrari team principal of “arrogance, lack of professionalism and non-engagement” and “damaging the reputation of his sport as he refuses to engage with the issues around F1 and human rights.”

Lord Scriven, who is also vice-chair of the APPG [All-Party Parliamentary Group] on Human Rights and Democracy in the Gulf, has been vocal in his objections to F1 going racing and, in recent years, conducting testing in Bahrain.

“He [Domenicali] thinks he can just receive the reported £574 million from the Bahrain authorities up to 2036 that makes him and his organisation richer, while having nothing to do with the real issues that his sport is helping to cloak in Bahrain,” he added.

In comments after the debate, Lord Scriven said: “It is very clear that wealthy individuals in the UK are not interested in dealing with serious implications of their sport on human rights and democratic norms when bought by Gulf States such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

“This debate has taken the lid off the murky waters some are swimming when it comes to sportswashing and the Government will now act.

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“Hopefully, people like Mr Domenicali will take their role seriously, conducting due diligence, rather than help countries like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia turn the spotlight away human rights abuses and democratic issues that are abound in their country – effectively ‘sportswashing’ their record.”

In response, F1 said in a statement to Autosport: “For decades Formula 1 has worked hard be a positive force everywhere it races, including economic, social, and cultural benefits.

“Sports like Formula 1 are uniquely positioned to cross borders and cultures to bring countries and communities together to share the passion and excitement of incredible competition and achievement.

“We take our responsibilities on rights very seriously and set high ethical standards for counterparties and those in our supply chain, which are enshrined in contracts, and we pay close attention to their adherence.”

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