SAKHIR, Bahrain – Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone tried to distance his organization from Max Mosley on Friday and a growing list of motor sports figures pushed for the FIA president to step down amid a sex scandal.
Mosley is head of the International Automobile Federation, the world governing body for motor sports. FIA oversees Formula One racing.
Ecclestone had defended Mosley last Sunday when British tabloid The News of the World reported that Mosley participated in sex acts with five prostitutes in a scenario it said involved Nazi role-playing.
Later Friday, Mosley’s camp confirmed that legal proceedings have begun in a London court claiming unlimited damages against The News of the World.
“This is a FIA thing, this has nothing to do with anyone else,” Ecclestone said at the Bahrain Grand Prix. “It doesn’t affect us in any shape or form. It’s not what I think, it’s what other people think.”
Germany’s national motoring body, ADAC, asked Mosley to reconsider his position and Yitzhak Milstein, president of the Automobile and Touring Club of Israel, called the story “shocking.”
The Netherlands’ motoring body, KNAF, said it would ask Mosley to resign at the special general assembly Mosley has called to explain himself.
“Because of his high-profile position, this can’t be accepted,” KNAF president Arie Ruitenbeek said. “I have not received my invitation yet (to the FIA meeting), but we will go and will vote for him to resign.”
Germany’s ADAC said that “the more than 100 million motorists worldwide should not be burdened by such an affair.”
“Therefore, we ask the president to very carefully reconsider his role within the organization,” the statement read. “It is in the interests of this world organization to carry on with its duties without the burden of this affair.”
Mosley on Thursday called a special FIA general assembly for 222 national motoring organizations from 130 countries to explain his position. The meeting will be held in Paris at a date to be determined.
Mosley, who is not attending this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, had written to all national motoring bodies earlier this week to apologize for the situation. He said he would not resign.
Mosley, whose mandate ends in October 2009, termed the tabloid report a “wholly unwarranted invasion of my privacy,” and said he will take legal action against the newspaper.
On Thursday, car manufacturers Toyota, Honda, BMW and Mercedes-Benz questioned the 67-year-old Mosley’s ability to lead the governing body of world auto racing in wake of the affair.
The video originally posted on the News of the World’s Web site showed a man identified as Mosley arriving at an apartment and then taking part in sex acts with women, one in a prisoner’s uniform, while speaking German.
Mosley is the son of British Union of Fascists party founder Oswald Mosley, a former British politician who served in Parliament for both the Labour and Conservative parties. Oswald Mosley died in 1980.