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Ecclestone criticised for comments

NEWS STORY
18/02/2008

Following Bernie Ecclestone's comments that the recent behaviour of fans at Barcelona was a one-off incident and that the FIA had over-reacted in setting up an anti-racism movement, the F1 supremo has come in for criticism.

According to the Guardian, Weyman Bennett, of the campaign Unite Against Fascism, said of the incident at Barcelona, and Ecclestone's comment: "I think these comments are totally unacceptable. There should be a clear message that bigotry and racism are not tolerated in Formula One.

"I think the idea that when people are racist you ignore them is just not acceptable."

Ignoring the fact that Barcelona was apparently not a one-off incident, with FIA President Max Mosley recently claiming that Lewis Hamilton suffered racist abuse from Spanish fans in China, it is not unusual to see the F1 supremo put his foot in it. In 2005, he caused outrage when asked about IRL racer Danica Patrick, and what he thought of the idea of woman racers.

"Women should be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances," he said, a typical Bernie quip but one which went down like a lead balloon with American race fans and women in general.

Fact is that race, like religion, sex and politics, is one of those taboo subjects that shouldn't be discussed in the pub over a few pints, and certainly not in public where all manner of people are only too keen to jump upon the bandwagon.

As we have seen in recent times, including the incident at Barcelona, these things have a tendency to snowball, especially in these times of 24-hours internet news coverage. These are sensitive times, and one man's off-the-cuff quip can soon lead to protests on the streets.

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