We must stand united against online abuse

Recently, one of the female FIA ​​stewards, Silvia Bellot, received death threats. It is quite unfortunate that a volunteer like Silvia or any of our marshals and officials, who give their time to allow us to go running, should be the object of such hatred.

Indeed, a number of FIA staff members have also been the target of harassing and hateful messages in recent years.

It is totally unacceptable that our volunteers, officials and employees are subjected to such extreme abuse. It has no place in our sport. It has a devastating effect on our mental health and that of our loved ones.

I will always stand up for my staff and volunteers. And let me be clear – without these people there would be no racing. We have to ask ourselves, who would want to become a senior official in this environment? The reality is obvious – if this continues it will destroy our sport.

As a referee and as a president, of course you expect people to disagree with the decisions you make. But you should expect these opinions and comments to be respectful. It is increasingly rare.

It is only through a collaborative approach that we will achieve some degree of success in combating this scourge on our sport.

We have already initiated this process through the following actions:

  • We have started a dialogue with social media platforms to play their part and we are starting to work with governments and other sports governing bodies to bring them together to make strong commitments for joint action.
  • We commission research through the FIA ​​University on digital hate and sport-specific toxic commentary. This will provide a platform for knowledge sharing, education and prevention.
  • We have partnered with Arwen.ai to use their artificial intelligence software to detect and eradicate abusive content on our own channels.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem welcomes Mario Andretti

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

In the coming months, we will launch a concerted campaign leveraging the power and reach of our entire federation of 244 motoring and sports organizations in 146 countries across 5 continents.

This campaign will build on the collaborative work of the FIA ​​and Formula 1 under the Drive It Out initiative.

I will talk more about it at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix later this month.

Passions run high in sport, but online harassment, abuse and hate speech should not be tolerated.

Everyone in our sport, media, teams, drivers and fans has a role to play. We cannot ignore this. I urge the entire motorsport ecosystem to take a stand.

We have to call him. It has to stop.

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