By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the Governing Body of World Motor Sport, is actively looking into the wearing by Lewis Hamilton at the Tuscan Grand Prix on 13 September 2020 of a t-shirt with the legend “ARREST THE COPS WHO KILLED BREONA TAYLOR”.
Breona Taylor was a black woman, who was shot by US police in her Louisville, Kentucky, home in March 2020.
Hamilton wore the t-shirt during the pre-race anti-racism demonstration and on the winners’ podium, where he said: “say her name.”
A spokesman for the FIA said that the FIA was a non-political organisation and that the anti-racism t-shirt may have infringed their Regulations.
After the race, a spokesman for Hamilton’s F1 Mercedes Team in answer to a Twitter user who asked Hamilton “to keep politics out of F1” stated:
“We’re not bringing politics into F1; these are human rights issues that we’re trying to highlight and raise aware of.”
This may be an artificial distinction.
Whilst, Human Rights are certainly a legal issue, at the same time, they are also a political one and nowadays it is difficult – if not impossible – to keep politics out of sport.
It will be interesting to see whether Hamilton is sanctioned by the FIA, especially as the FIA and F1 have mounted an anti-racism and pro-diversity campaign this year, which includes anti-racism demonstrations before every race!