Briatore's Future at QPR in Doubt

Football League deciding whether to take action after F1 race-fixing scandal

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Flavio Briatore's future at Queens Park Rangers is hanging in the balance following accusations that the Italian was involved in a Formula One race-fixing scandal.

Briatore, the former managing director of the Formula One Renault team, was accused of being part of a plan to order driver Nelson Piquet Jr to deliberately crash his car during last year’s Singapore Grand Prix, to allow team-mate, Fernando Alonso to win. Following an investigation, Formula One's governing body FIA ruled on Monday (September 21) that Briatore should be suspended from the sport indefinitely.

Briatore is co-owner of QPR along with Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal but according to Football League rules, owners or directors of football clubs should not be "subject to a ban from a sports governing body relating to the administration of their sport".

If the League decides Briatore fails its 'fit and proper person' test, he would have to sell his share in the Loftus Road club and stand down from any executive position there. The Football League has asked the FIA for more details of Briatore's ban before deciding whether to take action.

At the same time, Briatore is said to be considering legal action against the FIA to clear his name. The FIA refused to accept Briatore’s suggestion that he had no knowledge of the race-fixing plot and ruled that he was “personally and directly involved in the planning of the conspiracy”.

At an extraordinary meeting in Paris on Monday (September 21), the World Motor Sport Council, which is the most powerful body within the FIA, issued a damning judgment against him: “The World Motor Sport Council declares that, for an unlimited period, the FIA does not intend to sanction any International Event, Championship, Cup, Trophy, Challenge or Series involving Mr. Briatore in any capacity whatsoever, or grant any license to any Team or other entity engaging Mr. Briatore in any capacity whatsoever. It also hereby instructs all officials present at FIA-sanctioned events not to permit Mr. Briatore access to any areas under the FIA's jurisdiction. Furthermore, it does not intend to renew any Superlicence granted to any driver who is associated (through a management contract or otherwise) with Mr. Briatore, or any entity or individual associated with Mr. Briatore. In determining that such instructions should be applicable for an unlimited period, the World Motor Sport Council has had regard not only to the severity of the breach in which Mr. Briatore was complicit but also to his actions in continuing to deny his participation in the breach despite all the evidence.”

In an interview with the BBC, club manager Jim Magilton declined to comment on whether QPR's reputation would be affected if Briatore were allowed to stay on at Loftus Road: “At the moment, there are still a lot of things in the air and I think that as a football club, the powers that be will take care of that and my remit, my job, is to focus all my attention on the players, and on performances and then deal with whatever happens when it happens,” he said.

September 23, 2009

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