Yesterday, Mohammed Ben Sulayem was elected President of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile after the organization’s annual general assembly meeting in Paris, France. The former rally champion turned motorsport administrator received 61.6 percent of the vote. He replaces Jean Todt, who held the position for three four-year terms.
Graham Stoker, Jean Todt’s spiritual successor, lost despite having the endorsements of several influential national member clubs, including the United States. However, Stoker did not receive the support of his home club in the United Kingdom after he refused to allow a recorded Q&A session to be publicly available online. He received 36.6 percent of the vote.
An excerpt from Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s acceptance speech:
“Although there is much more work to do, our election is an important step towards making the FIA a more diverse organisation.
Electing a president, not from Europe is a first for our federation, as is the election of two women as Vice Presidents in sport.
We were elected on a manifesto rich with ambition. We will not shy away from the challenges ahead.
Together, I know we can overcome them and make our Federation truly for its members.
I promise we will govern in the interests of all. And will do it in an open and transparent manner. We expect to be held to account.”
The beginning of Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s presidency signals a more egalitarian shift in course for the FIA. He aims to increase participation in motorsport by making grassroots competition more accessible and affordable. Along with being the first non-European to lead the FIA in its 117-year history, his administration will include the first two women to be FIA Vice Presidents for Sport.
And yes, as many people online have informed me, Mohammed Ben Sulayem is the first FIA President to appear in a video game franchise through his appearances as a non-playable character in Codemasters’ Colin McRae Rally/Dirt series. This is the start of a truly new era for the FIA.