Speaking to reporters prior to last Sunday’s inaugural race in Baku, Azerbaijan, Bernie Ecclestone was aglow with praise for the city and its brand new street circuit. Many have questioned why Formula One is in Azerbaijan at all, a country widely criticized for its poor record on human rights.
According to Human Rights Watch, “Azerbaijan’s government has escalated repression against its critics, marking a dramatic deterioration in an already poor rights record. In recent years, dozens of human rights defenders, political and civil activists, journalists, and bloggers have been arrested or imprisoned on politically motivated charges, prompting others to flee the country or go into hiding.
“Bank accounts of independent civic groups and their leaders have been frozen, impeding their work, or in some cases forcing them to shut down entirely. New legal regulations make it almost impossible for independent groups to get foreign funding. While criticizing the increasing crackdown, Azerbaijan’s international partners have failed to secure rights improvements.”
Ecclestone, who has said repeatedly he is no fan of democracy, brushed aside any such concerns. According to NBC Sports, he told reporters, “The minute people tell me what human rights are, you can look at how, why and when it applies. Does anyone know what human rights are?” He went on to say, “We listen obviously, and if people have got genuine complaints, there is not a lot we can do. I think you get into trouble in most countries if you are anti some government or political people, or in fact anybody. So it is not quite as easy as that.” What is easy for Ecclestone is stuffing his pockets with cash shoveled his way by dictators.
Ecclestone is famous for running his mouth and saying outrageously stupid things. When there were rumors that Danica Patrick might drive in Formula One, he famously suggested she wear a white uniform so she would fit in with all the other appliances.
Last week, he decided to up his stupid quotient. While touting the wonders of Baku, he compared it to Montreal, where Formula One held a race the previous week. Ecclestone exclaimed, “We just left the greatest place in the world, North America, and compared to here (Baku), it is a bit of a shit hole isn’t it?” Which just goes to prove that having an enormous bank account is no defense against being an ignorant jackass.
Every Formula One team and managing principal has a Twitter account. The sport is heavily subsidized by major car companies like Mercedes Benz, Renault, and Ferrari, all of which have Twitter accounts. F1 also gets much of its revenue from sponsors like Pirelli and now Heineken. They also have Twitter accounts. It would be interesting to see what might happen if Formula One fans raised their collective voices in protest against this doddering old fool. Why not let all those important people and corporations know how you feel about an 86 year old misogynist jerk being in charge of a sport that bills itself as “The Pinnacle Of Motorsports?”