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Sport can shine "spotlight" on human rights abuses, insists Domenicali

NEWS STORY
17/03/2022

At a time F1 is accused of being used for 'sport-washing' purposes, Stefano Domenicali insists that sport can shine a "spotlight" on human rights abuses.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, F1 was one of many sports quick to react in severing all known links to the invader including terminating the contract for the Grand Prix at Sochi.

However, many pointed out that whilst F1 was only too quick to act against Russia, like many other sports, it continued to enjoy a close relationship with various other nations with appalling records on human rights.

Only last week, 81 prisoners were publicly executed in one day in Saudi Arabia for various offences, while fellow F1 hosts, like China and Qatar, also have appalling human rights records.

Some have said sport is being used to promote a positive image for such regimes, essentially glossing over, or sport-washing, a claim F1 boss, Stefano Domenicali denies.

"When we hear this kind of news, it's quite alarming," he tells Sky Sports. "But I'm a true believer in the fact that sport has to make sure that human rights is at the centre of our agenda, together with the country where we are going.

"I think if I take a step back, what we saw last year, we saw a lot of women, a lot of young people attending the race," he continued, referring to the Jeddah event, "and enjoying for the first time that they've never had the chance to see live, is the right direction to take.

"The fact that we're going to be there, gives the intensity of the spotlight around a subject that maybe without us would have a different place in the news."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Spindoctor, 18/03/2022 11:13

"No dictator nor Human Rights abusing nation is going to reform because F1 or Football or Athletics stopped competing there. But by competing in various countries, Sports can to an extent "Sportswash" or cleanse the image of vile regimes. To the watching masses in front of their TV sets there are stands full of happy, smiley people on display and Multinational Brands implicitly "supporting" the regime. We don't get to see the rat-infested dungeons, or the blood-soaked execution fields.

The much-quoted adage "follow the money" applies here too. Saudi or Russia or [insert as applicable] doesn't spend multi-millions on building tracks & stadiums &running events because the Rulers are fans of Football, F1, [insert...] etc. It's analogous to Advertising - Lever Bros doesn't spend tens of millions on advertising its wares for fun, or to support struggling Media companies.

Advertising & Sportswashing works. Hopefully Sports will start to take their responsibility to uphold our supposed Western values of Human Rights, decency, honesty & Rule of Law etc. sufficiently seriously to act accordingly."

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2. Posted by kenji, 18/03/2022 10:32

"@Elsiebc...Sorry but that is a judgemental call. Capital punishment is at the forefront of global HR and there still exists, in my private world, a need for this especially when treating those, for example, who send eight year old children into a packed market place with a suicide belt strapped on. Those responsible for such a depraved act do not not deserve to live. Sorry, but that's the way I see it."

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3. Posted by elsiebc, 18/03/2022 0:55

"And it's not political. Nor is it judgmental because F1 isn't making a judgment call."

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4. Posted by elsiebc, 18/03/2022 0:53

"All F1 has to do is not court certain countries. And if a country or locale comes to them F1 just needs to point to a list of certain standards that a host country needs to meet. I'm sure that there are several entities that rank countries on all kinds of things, including human rights. One of the standards would be a ranking of x or better on so and so's list (or maybe an average of several accepted lists). If a country fails to meet the criteria it shows them what they have to work on because those rankings are forthcoming with their methodology. It's out of F1's hands. "We'd really love to have you but..." That's what F1 can do, Stefano."

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5. Posted by Defiant, 18/03/2022 0:50

"Hypocrite much there Stefano.

The cherry picking virtue signalling is painful.

Just focus on the racing and proper implementation of rules please."

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6. Posted by kenji, 17/03/2022 23:56

"Does anyone seriously believe that the general population , with an interest in f1, make a conscious decision to link human rights records with the fact that an f1 race was held in suspect nations and that that action ameliorates the status quo? Does anyone believe that by refusing to race in any nation that has problems in human rights, accords the F1 fraternity a more positive position in the general scheme of global sport ? Personally I'm against F1 being linked with any political position, either good or bad. f1 should arrive, race and then leave....that's it. f1 should be apolitical. Ukraine is about unashamed greed for greater sovereignty and not popular politics as commonly understood.
"

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7. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 17/03/2022 18:41

"F1 is doing a brilliant job of highlighting human rights abuses by racing at certain tracks of late and taking the money too."

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8. Posted by meatball, 17/03/2022 17:48

"the sport has been ignoring blatant human rights violations for decades. has really taken a war, the expulsion of a major team sponsor and a few drivers to bring "light" to this? what an ignorant thing for Domenicali to say. at this point in the game, the only thing that really speaks any volume is ACTION. But, money talks, right?"

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9. Posted by Tardis40, 17/03/2022 16:30

"Let's focus on racing. "

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10. Posted by elsiebc, 17/03/2022 14:14

"So regimes will pack the grandstands with whatever group makes them look good. It's doting on your wife at your boss' cocktail party and then smacking her around at home. "

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