David Ward has officially withdrawn from the race to become President of the FIA. The deadline for entering a candidate list with a full team of deputies is tomorrow, November 15. It now looks as though Todt will be re-elected unopposed on December 6th in Paris.
Ward had challenged Todt on a ticket of governance reform and financial transparency and he has lobbed plenty of handgrenades in Todt’s direction in the last two months, calling into question his probity in office, his lack of financial openness and even referring him to the FIA’s Ethics Committee over letters of support gained in South America months before the election was called.
Ward always argued that the high barrier for entry, with an extensive list required of deputies and vice preseidents, meant that the playing field was unfairly slanted towards the incumbent and contrasted it with the recent IOC elections where a number of candidates stood and a debate about the future direction of the IOC took place.
Predictably, Ward has cited the impossibility of getting enough vice presidents together from each region – because Todt has already signed them up – as the reason for withdrawal.
The real story is the decision by Middle East powerbroker Mohammed Bin Sulayem to side with Todt. If there was to be anyone who could challenge Todt this time around it was Bin Sulayem and Ward was seen by some as a stalking horse candidate for the Emirati. But once Bin Sulayem decided not to stand, a lot of the energy went out of Ward’s candidacy.
His candidacy has shone a torch into some areas of the FIA and caused some minor embarrassment for Todt, but ultimately the fact that he was so closely involved in the previous Mosley regime, which was not a beacon of transparency, undermined the credibility of some of his arguments in the eyes of many FIA voters.
In his statement Ward said, “I am writing to confirm my withdrawal as a candidate in the 2013 FIA Presidential election. It has not proved possible for me to secure the required number of regional Vice Presidents for Sport to ensure the eligibility of my list. I, therefore, would like to offer my congratulations to Jean Todt who will secure a second term uncontested if not unopposed.
“As I explained when I launched my candidacy in September, my reason for standing has been to promote transparency, accountability and democracy in the FIA. For many years the FIA has struggled with governance reform. All too often it takes one step forward and then two steps back. This is clear from the current election which is being run on a shorter presidential list than the 2009 but which is offset by a new requirement for 26 nominating clubs.
“The 2009 eligibility threshold was 23 but has now risen to 37 which is the highest ever in the history of the FIA.”
Ward’s next move is likely to be into a global road safety NCAP programme which sits outside of the FIA.