FIA President, Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s Speech to open Joint Mobility and Sport Conference in Cordoba


Dear Presidents, Dear Delegates, My Dear Friends,

I am very happy to be here with you, in the beautiful city of Cordoba for this joint Sport and Mobility Conference on the 119th birthday of our Federation. 

Cordoba is a special place. 

It is the only city in the modern world to host four UNESCO World Heritage sites and its history is truly remarkable, spanning centuries of different cultures. 

I would therefore like to thank RACE - the Royal Automobile Club of Spain, our Host Club of the FIA Conference 2023, as well as the Region of Andalusia and the City of Cordoba for making this meeting possible, in these amazing surroundings. 

A thank you as well to the Royal Spanish Automobile Federation

And of course today we had the honour of meeting His Majesty King Felipe the 6th of Spain. 

Please let us all thank His Majesty and the country of Spain for their huge support.

As you are aware, since day one my team and I have been investing in our people to put the new strategy into place.

In that matter, we have created a new fit-for-purpose single seater department.

We have also welcomed our new Secretaries Generals Sport and Mobility and have strengthened our senior Executive team.

Financially, there is no doubting that the FIA has become stronger. 

We are balancing the books as promised in our manifesto, while maintaining club grants. 

And, the new re-vamped CPD website continues to deliver record sales.

While the past is behind us, it is always crucial to learn from it.

It is always satisfying to celebrate the history of our Federation. 

Today, we’ll do so with the 125th anniversary of the AIT – l’Alliance Internationale du Tourisme.

The future is of course ahead of us, and we need to prepare for it. 

It is our intention therefore to refresh this body as a powerful voice. 

I am happy to confirm funding for the AIT which will allow us to digitise their entire archive by October this year, safeguarding our heritage as promised.

More than ever, the voice of our Federation must be heard. 

And respected. 

The challenges which lie ahead requires it.

My role, as your President, is to represent you at the highest levels of Government. 

In the past months, I have had discussions with the French, British, Azerbaijani, Monaco and Slovenian Governments as well as top EU representatives.

I have also met and will meet with top global federations such as FIFA.

Rest assured I will continue to be your good ambassador all the time, and everywhere.

There is no need to remind you that the world we are living in is ever more complex and that sustainability is no longer just an environmental issue. 

It has indeed become a safety issue not only for Sport and Mobility but for the entire world. 

On this topic, the FIA has launched our new look Environmental report – increasing our transparency and reach.

We have also confirmed our participation in COP and our newly set up working group is already producing research.

You know it: our target is to ensure all championships are powered by renewable energies by 2030 and we are on track!

Regarding our communications, we have started our “digital dialogues”, our new communication groups to help share best practice and boost your club’s news on our networks.

And we have also launched a successful refreshed news letter, with regional sections and 34% more clickthrough.

Regarding social media, we can be proud of our Tik Tok presence which in a few months has reached 180,000 followers. This is record growth since its inception last November.

Finally, an initial website refresh has also begun. 

In early 2023, we made an important commitment: to fight against online hate.

Our Campaign is gathering speed and our Federation is leading the fight against online abuse.

We have hired a new project manager, thanks to funding secured from the FIA Foundation. 

We have created new relationships with academic institutions; engaged with other federations, FIFA, IOC, UEFA, with the EU, and with national governments in France, Monaco and Slovenia.

We have entered into dialogue with social media platforms like Twitter; and created an FIA Master’s degree, funded by the FIA Foundation, where six scholarship will be awarded in each region – Africa, North and South America, Europe, MENA and Asia. 

We also promised to expand the FIA University into Motorsport and Mobility. 

Our new FIA University Sport Clubs Management course will be launched in the near future and will be tailored to the needs of you, the members. 

It is now time to mention the two pillars of the FIA and their progress.

As Sport is concerned, we have experienced several achievements.

To start with, you will be able to enjoy the demonstration here in Cordoba of our Motorsport in a box.

I am also happy to announce that the First FIA Motorsport Engineering Masters Scholarship was a great success. Indeed, over 300 young people applied.

Furthermore, we have created the first ever Africa regional sports coordinator;

supported diversity with the launch of the HPP (High Performance Program);

successfully launched our F1 Expression of Interest;

as well as our second FIA Immersion programme;

We have also signed the EU Commission’s Healthy4all pledge committing us to delivering a healthier future for our young people; and we’ve launched the Eco Rally Brand partnership with Bridgestone – including an event here in Cordoba today and tomorrow. 

These are steps in the right direction.

On the Mobility side let’s mention the successful expansion of our program “One road” which connects our clubs to business opportunities for their members.

Concerning the grant programme, the new scheme has been launched.

Almost a million Euros were available to Clubs under the Road Safety and Sustainable Mobility grant programme. 

In particular, we increased the resources available for Clubs for projects dealing with emission reductions, air quality and sustainability in general. 

That is a clear signal that the FIA wishes to play a leading role in this area.

Also, as part of the New Mobility Strategy, more resources have been made available to support the advocacy agenda of the Regions - and our vision to be a knowledge-based organisation. 

Regarding our Environmental programme, new clubs have been accredited.

It is encouraging to observe an increase of the accreditation demands.

I am also happy to announce that a second edition of the FIA President’s Awards is off the ground. 

These Awards will give visibility to initiatives in the fields of Diversity and Inclusion, Climate Action and Road Safety. 

I am looking forward to seeing the richness of experiences from our members that will drive change.

Finally, I remind you that registrations have been opened for the two Global Programmes of the FIA University: 

- the Emerging Leaders Programme in Madrid, 

- and the Senior Executive Programmes, at Columbia Business School in New-York. 

Those programmes give unique opportunities for their participants to build relevant skills for their Clubs and access world-class instructors and networking opportunities. 

If we look to the future, we definitely have a busy second semester ahead, with:

-The American congress in Guatemala this August

-The Region II roundtable in Bali this September

-The first ever Asia Motorsport Games in Malaysia this October, with 23 countries participating 

-The MENA Karting event this autumn and

-The AGA and Prize Giving in Baku in December

And many more….

Once again, I want to assure you of my full commitment and that of my team and management to amplify and accelerate all the FIA achievements for your benefit.

I am really looking forward to spending time with you.

Thank you very much.

I now declare this Joint Conference open.