Israel withdraws invitation to Mosley

BARCELONA Fri Apr 25, 2008 7:33pm BST

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BARCELONA (Reuters) - Israel withdrew an invitation to motor racing chief Max Mosley on Friday in a further setback to his efforts to overcome the sex scandal threatening his job.

International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Mosley, who has ignored calls to resign since the scandal broke last month, had met Israeli Sports Minister Galeb Magadla at the Jordan Rally.

"During the meeting between the two in Jordan, the subject of FIA support of Israeli motor sports, which is in its first stages, was raised, and a proposal was made that the FIA will follow the development of the sport in Israel," Magadla's spokesman said in a statement.

"The minister, who was not aware of the current scandal, emphasises that the invitation was not a personal invitation to Mr. Mosley, but an invitation for the entire federation, as an international body," he added.

"After the issue was raised with the minister, he asked to immediately halt any formal invitation to Mr. Mosley until the minister returns to Israel."

Mosley's visit to Jordan was his first official appearance in public since the British Sunday tabloid News of the World splashed details of what it said was a sado-masochistic Nazi-style orgy with prostitutes dressed as concentration camp prisoners.

Mosley, whose father Oswald was the founder of the pre-World War Two British Union of Fascists, has denied any Nazi connotations to the affair.

Israel marks the Yom Hashoah Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday next week.

COMPLETELY DISHONEST

The FIA said in a statement it was grateful for the original invitation and understood the circumstances in which it was withdrawn.

"I fully understand the minister's position and look forward to resuming contact with him when the News of the World's deliberate and calculated lies have been comprehensively refuted," it quoted Mosley as saying.

Mosley is suing the News of the World for unlimited damages but the newspaper has repeatedly said it stands by its story.

He has not attended any Formula One race since the scandal broke but he denied on Friday that he was deliberately steering clear of the high profile sport and said he would be at next month's Monaco Grand Prix.

"I will be going to the Monaco Grand Prix. I live there," the 68-year-old told the Autosport Web site in Jordan, whose rally clashes with this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.

Spain is the first race of the season in Europe, where the FIA launched an anti-racism campaign without him on Thursday.

Mosley stayed away from the Bahrain Grand Prix on April 6, with that country's rulers making clear his presence would not be welcome.

While some critics suggested Mosley's absence from the Circuit de Catalunya was to avoid any potential embarrassment to the King of Spain, Mosley said he had never planned to attend.

He also hit back at reports he had been snubbed in Jordan, despite his invitation by the Crown Prince Feisal Al Hussein.

"I was invited to Jordan by the Prince and I accepted. For national newspapers to be writing that I had been snubbed by the King of Jordan is completely dishonest. I was never supposed to meet him. It was never in the programme -- so how can that be a snub?" he said.

While former champions, several major car manufacturers and some FIA members have called for him to resign, Mosley has refused to quit.

He faces a vote of confidence by secret ballot at an FIA general assembly in Paris on June 3, nine days after the Monaco Grand Prix -- the social highlight of the Formula One season.

The next race after Spain is Turkey on May 11.

(Additional reporting by Avida Landau in Jerusalem)

(Editing by Miles Evans and Ken Ferris)

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