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Secretary General of the FIA ICA slams manufacturers' comments

NEWS STORY
22/05/2005

David Ward, the Secretary General of the FIA International Court of Appeal, has issued the following statement into recent statements by the leading manufacturers in F1, following the BAR appeal.

1) Introduction

On May 9th five major car manufacturers (1) issued a statement which included the following paragraph:

"Following the events of the past week in Formula One, the manufacturers again confirmed that the issue of sporting governance is central to the comprehensive set of governing principles which the manufacturers unanimously agreed in January 2005. One of their objectives is to have a definitive interpretation of the applicable regulations through an independent, readily accessible and swift appeals process, administered by an internationally recognised body, in accordance with the practice of other major sports".

The manufacturers' statement clearly implies that the FIA International Court of Appeal (ICA), which had considered the Imola - BAR Honda case in the week before, is neither independent nor follows the practices of other major sports. This attack is misconceived and reveals a lack of understanding of both the structure of the FIA and the general principles of sports governance.

This paper, therefore, describes the main requirements of contemporary sports governance and demonstrates that in all respects the statement of the five manufacturers is wrong and constitutes an unwarranted and unfair attack on the members of the ICA who serve in an elected and entirely voluntary capacity.

2) Developments in Sports Governance – the Nice Declaration

Over the last five years there have been significant developments in sports governance largely stimulated by the application of European Community law to sport and, in particular, to sports governing bodies. This process culminated in the adoption by the European Council meeting in Nice during the French Presidency in December 2000 of a Declaration "On the specific characteristics of sport and its social function in Europe, of which account should be taken in implementing common policies".

This Declaration by Heads of Government of the European Union (EU) sets out the general principles by which the EU institutions should deal with sport, in particular, when applying internal market and competition rules. The adoption of the Declaration was an initiative promoted by President Jacques Chirac and supported by international sports federations, such as the International Olympic Committee, UEFA, and the FIA.

As regards sports federations the Nice Declaration includes the following:

Role of Sports Federations

7. The European Council stresses its support for the independence of sports organisations and their right to organise themselves through appropriate associative structures. It recognises that, with due regard for national and Community legislation and on the basis of a democratic and transparent method of operation, it is the task of sporting organisations to organise and promote their particular sports, particularly as regards the specifically sporting rules applicable and the make-up of national teams, in the way which they think best reflects their objectives.

8. It notes that sports federations have a central role in ensuring the essential solidarity between the various levels of sporting practice, from recreational to top-level sport, which co-exist there; they provide the possibility of access to sports for the public at large, human and financial support for amateur sports, promotion of equal access to every level of sporting activity for men and women alike, youth training, health protection and measures to combat doping, acts of violence and racist and xenophobic occurrences.

9. These social functions entail special responsibilities for federations and provide the basis for the recognition of their competence in organising competitions.

10. While taking account of developments in the world of sport, federations must continue to be the key feature of a form of organisation providing a guarantee of sporting cohesion and participatory democracy.

The Nice Declaration, therefore, recognises the competence and autonomous role of sports federations provided that they respect principles of transparency democracy and solidarity between different levels of the sporting practice. The EU institutions are now following these general principles in the application of Community law to sport and case law exists arising from decisions of the European Court of Justice that also recognises the legitimate rule-making role of governing bodies (e.g. the Deliege case ECJ C-51/96&97- April 11th 2000).

3) The Statement of Good Governance Principles (EOC/FIA)

In response to the Nice Declaration sports federations have also taken their own initiatives to promote good governance in sport. In 2000 the European Olympic Committee and the FIA together developed a ‘Statement of Good Governance Principles' for Sports Governing Bodies. The Principles were debated in February 2001 at a major conference in Brussels attended by over 170 delegates, representing all major sports, National Olympic Committees and national sports ministries and co-chaired by Dr Jacques Rogge and Max Mosley.

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