Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecxclestone has ignited a storm by announcing that he backs Russian president Vladimir Putin’s stance on gay rights.
In an exclusive interview with CNN, Ecclestone said, “[Putin] hasn’t said that he doesn’t agree [with homosexuality] just that he doesn’t want these things publicized to an audience under the age of 18.”
“I completely agree with those sentiments and if you took a world census you’d find 90% of the world agree with it as well,” said the F1 boss.
CNN reports that Putin’s government recently-introduced anti-gay legislation “prohibiting spreading gay propaganda to minors” has been the focus of much criticism.
“I’ve 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,” added Ecclestone.
Formula 1 goes to Sochi this year for the first ever Russian Grand Prix, a deal which was negotiated between Putin and Ecclestone, and fully endorsed by the Russian leader.
Ecclestone has a history of making politically incorrect gaffes:
Ecclestone on Adolf Hitler in 2009: “In a lot of ways, terrible to say this I suppose, but apart from the fact that Hitler got taken away and persuaded to do things that I have no idea whether he wanted to do or not, he was in the way that he could command a lot of people, able to get things done.”
The self made billionaire later apologised to the Jewish Chronicle: “I’m just sorry that I was an idiot. I sincerely, genuinely apologise. What I regret is people who have taken this the wrong way and have been offended. I’m really, really sad about that because I have done an awful lot for Jewish communities throughout – charities and whatever.”
Ecclestone on Saddam Hussein in 2009: “Politicians are too worried about elections. We did a terrible thing when we supported the idea of getting rid of Saddam Hussein, he was the only one who could control the country.”
Ecclestone on racism levelled at Lewis Hamilton during testing, in Spain, in 2008: “I don’t think it was anything to do with racism. There were a few people in Spain and that was probably beginning as a joke rather than anything abusive. I think people look and read into things that are not there… these things are people expressing themselves.” (GP247)
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