F1 threatens legal action against Ben Sulayem, the FIA president. Has the FIA president overstepped the mark? After a tweet from the FIA number 1 in recent days, comes the harsh reaction of the commercial rights company of Formula 1, Liberty Media, the American commercial multi-billion dollar giant flexes its muscles against the French-based institution with its volunteering and unpaid FIA president Mohammad ben Sulayem.
Recent statements by Mohammed Ben Sulayem have sparked a real war between the FIA and F1. The number one of the international federation, in recent days, had warned Liberty Media about a possible sale of the commercial rights to F1, explaining that he was very cautious and vigilant about possible inflated prices associated with F1 itself.
Liberty Media takes action
Ben Sulayem went on to say that the $20 billion offered by the PIF Fund, rejected by Liberty Media, was not enough to save the sport.
Ben Sulayem went one step further and took on the role of “guarantor” of the integrity of the sport, particularly as regards the possibility of overcharging the organisers and, by extension, the fans. Liberty Media replied with a letter, reported by Sky News in the UK, signed by Sacha WoodwardHill, the legal director for Formula One, and Renee-Wilm, the legal and administration director for Liberty Media Corporation, and containing inflammatory language to put it mildly.
Without mincing words, the company accused the FIA of overstepping its bounds, pointing out that “Formula One has the exclusive right to exploit the commercial rights to the F1 World Championship” under a 100-year concession it obtained from the FIA just over 10 years ago.
“The FIA has made an unequivocal commitment not to do anything that would prejudice the ownership, management and/or exploitation of these rights,” the letter goes on to say.
“We consider that those comments, made via the official social account of the FIA president, interfere with these rights in an unacceptable manner.
“It is wrong to say that any interested buyers should consult the FIA first’. Liberty Media not only reiterated the boundaries between the two parties, but also threatened legal action: ‘Ben Sulayem has overstepped his authority. Any individual or organisation that comments on the value of a listed entity, especially by implying that it has inside knowledge in doing so, risks causing substantial harm to the shareholders and investors of that entity, not to mention potential exposure to serious regulatory consequences.
“Should these comments damage the value of Liberty Media, the FIA could be liable for them’.”