Bernie Ecclestone, president and chief executive of Formula One motor racing, has said he is concerned that Jewish investors in the sport are unhappy with Max Mosley’s continuing involvement in its regulating body.
Mr Mosley, president of the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile (FIA), a non-profit association that represents the interests of motoring organisations and is the governing body for Formula One, was accused by the News of the World newspaper in March of taking part in orgies involving Nazi role-playing and several prostitutes.
But earlier this month, Mr Mosley won a vote of confidence at the FIA and retained his position as president.
This week, Mr Ecclestone, 77, said: “I’m sure that some of the people on the boards of large companies who invest in Formula One are Jewish, and that they might be unhappy with the allegations about Max.
“They might decide they don’t want to be involved with Formula One any more because of it. I completely appreciate why people felt offended by the allegations about Max.”
But he added that, so far, no investors had pulled their funds.
The News of the World presented what it said was video footage of the alleged orgy, although Mr Mosley has strenuously denied the claims. He recently said he would be taking legal action against the newspaper.
The 68-year-old FIA president is the son of Sir Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s, and of Diana Mitford, a well-known Hitlerphile. His parents were married at a secret ceremony in the Berlin home of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, at which Adolf Hitler was a guest of honour.
The newspaper allegations provoked an outcry, with many involved in the sport — including the president of Ferrari, Luca di Montezenolo — calling on Mr Mosley to resign from his role as president. Several Jewish organisations, including the Holocaust Education Trust, expressed their outrage.
Mr Ecclestone said he believed that Mr Mosley should have dealt with the allegations differently.
“He should have apologised to all the clubs that the FIA represents and should have said he would resign at some point, even if not exactly when. In the short term he probably should have resigned, though he does a good job as president so it probably wouldn’t have been best in the long term.”
He added: “Suing the News of the World will create more publicity, which is not what anyone wants.”
Despite the effects that the allegations had and the numerous calls for his resignation, Mr Ecclestone said Mr Mosley was “a bit of a fighter, a bit like his father”.
Although the BBC Sport website on Tuesday claimed that Mr Ecclestone was Jewish, he told the JC that he was not. “But 85 per cent of the people I knock about with are Jewish, so that’s probably why people might think I am. I don’t mind people thinking I’m Jewish.”