Rights groups condemn F1’s “double standard” for racing in Bahrain amidst “continued institutionalized repression”

15 March 2022 – 27 NGOs wrote to the CEO of Formula 1 (F1), Stefano Domenicali, to condemn the company’s “clear double standard” on Ukraine in comparison to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend. Rights groups raised concerns over F1’s failure to engage with rights groups in spite of “continued institutionalized repression” in Bahrain, whilst calling on F1 to use their platform to secure redress for victims in Bahrain, reconsider their policy on racing in Gulf states due to their role in waging war in Yemen, and evaluate their contract with Bahrain, said the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) and Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) today.

Husain Abdullah, Executive Director of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), commented: “When Formula 1 finally adopted a human rights policy, it failed to make any meaningful impact on the victims who have suffered due to the staging of their races in the Gulf. We once again call upon F1 to refrain from sportswashing and to stand up for the victims of abuse and war in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen once and for all, just as they have done in Ukraine.”

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Advocacy Director at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, commented: “Formula 1 must uphold values of peace and unity everywhere, particularly in the countries where they are racing. At present the F1 races in the Gulf are only enabling Bahrain and Saudi to sportswash their abysmal human rights records which continue to deteriorate. How long will F1 fans allow their sport to be exploited by abusive regimes? Rewarding Bahrain with one of the longest contracts in racing history speaks volumes about how they dismiss human rights concerns and prioritise profit. This hypocrisy must end.”

 Full list of signatories to the letter:

  1. Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy

  2. ACAT-France

  3. ALQST for Human Rights

  4. Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain

  5. Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK

  6. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies


  8. Democracy for the Arab World Now

  9. European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights

  10. FEMENA

  11. Football Supporters Europe

  12. Global Legal Action Network

  13. Gulf Centre for Human Rights

  14. Human Rights Sentinel

  15. GLAI Organization

  16. International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims

  17. International Service for Human Rights

  18. International Trade Union Confederation

  19. MENA Rights Group

  20. Scholars at Risk

  21. Sport & Rights Alliance

  22. The Army of Survivors

  23. Transparency International Germany

  24. WHRD MENA Coalition

  25. Women’s March Global

  26. World Organisation Against Torture

  27. World Players Association, UNI Global Union