Donald Sterling drew the ire of the world when racist comments he made to his mistress surfaced during the spring of 2014, but is he the only powerful sports figure to make reprehensible comments? Far from it. In fact, we should examine Bernie Ecclestone, the President and CEO of Formula One Management and his views on women, Jewish people, and homosexuals. Not only has F1’s top boss been accused of bribery and tax evasion, but the leader of the world’s premier racing league has also made some very reprehensible public statements about minorities.
Formula One largely goes under the radar in the United States as it is primarily a European and South American sport, but the sport now holds a race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, making Bernie Ecclestone’s controversial public statements something we should scrutinize just as we did the abhorrent private sentiments of Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Viewing Women As Appliances?
In 2005, as Danica Patrick’s star was rising in the IndyCar racing world, Bernie Ecclestone raised many eyebrows when he made some questionable comments about the role of women in racing and in society as a whole. Bernie Ecclestone responded to Danica Patrick’s arrival on the racing scene by saying, “women should be in the kitchen, shouldn’t they?” He went on to say, “they should wear white, like a domestic appliance, and they shouldn’t be allowed out. You don’t take the washing machine out of the house, do you?” Danica Patrick handled Bernie Ecclestone’s comments and trolling with zeal and class. Were the comments made by the head of Formula One more deplorable than those made by Donald Sterling? It is not my place to judge, but these were clearly vile statements to make about women in the 21st century.
Insensitive to Minorities in General
In another incident of questionable cultural sensitivity, Bernie Ecclestone ruffled some feathers with a racially insensitive comment that could have been construed as offensive to multiple minority groups. The Formula One President said that he is waiting for the right female racer to come along and he would like “…to find the right girl, perhaps a black girl with super looks, preferably Jewish or Muslim, who speaks Spanish.” While the comment was likely made in jest and not overtly racist, it did illustrate the Formula One CEO’s flippant attitude toward females and minorities, taking aim at multiple groups in one swipe. Are these the kind of comments one should hear from the commissioner of an international sports organization?
Accusations of Anti-Semitism
One of Bernie Ecclestone’s most vile comments came during an interview in 2009. The Formula One President praised Adolf Hitler for being a good leader who was able to get things done. This abhorrent comment drew the ire of many Jewish groups and Bernie Ecclestone issued an apology but the damage was done. Being the CEO of the world’s premier auto racing league comes with responsibility and it is simply unfathomable and unacceptable for a person with his level of influence to even flirt with heaping praise upon a man responsible for so much pain and suffering. Some could say that Bernie Ecclestone’s controversial statements about Adolf Hitler were worse than Donald Sterling’s racist comments.
Comments Perceived As Homophobic
Vladimir Putin’s views on homosexuality have been well-documented and Bernie Ecclestone has gone on record as supporting those views. The Formula One President and CEO went as far as to say, “I’ve got great admiration for [Putin] and his courage to say what he says. It may upset a few people but that’s how the world is. It’s how he sees the world and I think he’s completely right.” Bernie Ecclestone oversees a truly global entity with worldwide appeal and goes on record making disparaging comments like this. The comments rank right up there with the racial comments made by Donald Sterling.
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