New Delhi: Barely a day after Force India`s
historic podium finish at the Belgian Grand Prix, a war of
words broke out between Sports Minister M S Gill and Vijay
Mallya on the government`s refusal to acknowledge Formula One
as a sport.
While Mallya questioned the Sports Ministry`s stand
against Formula One, an adamant Gill virtually snubbed the
liquor baron by calling it "expensive entertainment" and said
the government would not change its stand just because of
Force India`s performance.
Gill insisted that it was technology and not any sporting
skill that determines the outcome of Formula One races.
"I congratulate them for their efforts but our view has
been known for the past many many months. Formula One is the
most expensive entertainment even in the west," Gill said.
"The technology they use is far beyond anything here. So,
our view is clear that we are focussed on promoting sports and
that`s how it should be. The rest, it`s a free country, what
they want to do here is their business," he added.
But despite the Sports Ministry`s rejection, Mallya
maintained India will host its maiden Formula One Grand Prix
race as scheduled in 2011.
"We are definitely going to host the event. The
organisers have acquired the land in Greater Noida and have
started building the track," Mallya told from
Spa-Francorchamps, where Giancarlo Fisichella won Force
India`s first Formula one points.
The 2011 Indian Grand Prix ran into rough weather after
the Sports Ministry denied JPSK Sports, promoter of the event
in India, approval to the remittance of USD 36.5 million to
Formula One Administration in UK.
Adamant Sports Ministry officials maintain Formula One
does not have the social relevance of an Olympic sport and
have refused to give their nod to the transaction, which comes
under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (GEMMA) because it`s
Mallya was baffled by the Sports Ministry`s stand against
the Indian Grand Prix and wonders what prompted it to say that
Formula One is not a sport as such.
"How can they say that Formula One is not sport?" he
"When hundreds of millions of people worldwide follow it
as a sport, what makes them believe otherwise?" a miffed
"Formula One is the most watched sports in the world, of
course outside Olympic Games and World Cup soccer. So it`s
really unfair if someone says that Formula One is not a
sport," Mallya said.