As the race to be elected FIA president enters its decisive phase, with the closing date for nominations just two weeks away, the challenger David Ward and the incumbent Jean Todt have been jousting in recent days over Ward’s ongoing gripes about governance.
Ward launched another salvo this week against the Todt-led FIA, suggesting that it falls well short of the standards set out by the IOC for ethics, transparency and accounting in a detailed document sent to all member clubs of the FIA who will vote for the president,
“Rather than boast that recognition by the IOC leaves the FIA with no need for further governance reform, I think the FIA’s membership of the Olympic and Sports Movement creates new responsibilities to apply the IOC’s good governance principles, ” he writes.
However in response the IOC sent a supportive letter to Todt, which it asked him to circulate among member clubs, in which it says,
“Each Federation is responsible for determining the internal structures, including the composition of governing bodies and commissions, which are best suited to their sport.
During the recognition procedure, many discussions were held between the FIA and the IOC Sports Department, particularly regarding the involvement of athletes in governing bodies.
“The IOC Executive Board and subsequently the IOC Session duly noted that the FIA was compliant with all the criteria and granted full recognition to the International Federation in September 2013.”
Ward believes he can win the election if he successfully enlists the 26 nominations required to enter the contest.
Ward must get the nominations before the 15 November deadline ahead of the election which takes place on 6 December by secret ballot.
However, his chances have suffered a pair of setbacks after potential challenger Mohammed Bin Sulayem chose not to enter the contest and instead put his support behind incumbent president Jean Todt. Then his complaint to the FIA Ethics Committee over Todt’s support letters from South America was dismissed.
When Ward, who resigned as the secretary general of the FIA Foundation to prepare his campaign, was asked by this website if would get enough votes to seriously challenge if he manages to get the list nominations, he said: “Oh yes, definitely.
“I’ve worked for the FIA for 20 years and I’ve got some extremely good friends and contacts all round the world. The work I was doing with the FIA Foundation, many of the things we’ve been doing were with clubs over many, many years. Before that, I was running the Brussels office, where I was in touch with all the European clubs. I’ve got a very good network of contacts around the clubs.
“If you had a system where the vice presidents were elected bottom up, and therefore not dependent on patronage and favour from the top, you’d get a completely different dynamic. At the moment, you only hold the position of vice president for Africa or the Middle East if you get yourself onto the winning candidate’s team.
“So you’ve got to make a judgement – if you want to be vice president for Africa, which is quite a big deal for the people who hold these regional positions. If you want that, you’ve got to back the right horse.”
Ward has argued for a lot of changes to the way that the FIA is run and structured and added that he doesn’t mind if he wins or not, he just wants to improve the way the FIA is governed.
“I think these governance reforms are what really matters, not whether or not I’m the president of the FIA,” he said. “If another candidate, who has the support, looks better-placed to succeed than me and they agree with a significant amount of what I’m saying, then I would be incredibly selfish and stupid to remain in a race where the principal reason I’m running is to bring about some improvements in the governance.”
This gives rise to the suspicion among some observers that Ward may not actually enter the race by the November 15 deadline, but is using this election opportunity to shoot some missiles at Todt.
Ward added that the FIA should think about restructuring itself to match the system employed by the International Motorcycle Federation (FIM), the governing body of MotoGP.
“They [FIM] have exactly what I’m talking about,” he said. “They have a chief executive and they have a president who for the first time in its history is a Venezuelan, non-European.
“Its management board has representatives elected from continental unions; there are six of them, that are elected bottom up, not on an electoral list. So the FIM’s governance, in my view, is a lot healthier than the FIA’s.”