New Delhi, Oct. 26: The Indian Government on Friday made its unhappiness clear with the Ferrari Formula One team’s plan to display the Italian naval flag when it races in the Indian Grand Prix this weekend.
The Italian team will fly the Navy’s flag to show its solidarity with two marines who were arrested last year for allegedly shooting dead two Indian fishermen.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has frowned at a statement by the Ferrari team that it hoped India and Italy would find a solution to the situation and called Italian Navy as one of the “outstanding entities of our country”.
“Using sporting events to promote causes not of a sporting nature, not in keeping with spirit of sports,” the MEA said in its statement.
The National Fishermen’s Forum (NFF) has also angrily condemned the move. NFF Secretary T Peter said in Thiruvananthapuram that Ferrari’s decision amounted to “a shame on the nation”.
“Allowing the Italian company to openly express support and solidarity to the under trials is a serious lapse on the part of the government and sports authorities of the country. We strongly demand that the company be asked to reconsider this,” Peter said.
Formula One CEO Bernie Ecclestone distanced himself from the storm kicked up by Ferrari’s decision, saying the national association should look into such “political matters”.
“What we’d do, we’d look at the national sporting authority (FMSCI) here to have a look at that…we are not political.” Mr Ecclestone said when asked about Ferrari’s decision.
Ferrari had on Thursday clarified that its decision to race with the flag of the Italian navy on their cars at this weekend’s Indian Grand Prix is a gesture of solidarity towards Marines facing trial in India over charges of killing two fishermen.
“First of all, we just wanted to pay tribute to all the Italian Navy which is one of the excellences of Italy and it’s just a sign of hope that a solution can be found about the case that involves two Italian sailors,” a Ferrari team official said.
“Something which has to be clear that we don’t want to say anything in one sense or the another. We have utmost respect for the Indian authorities. We just hope that a solution can be found as soon as possible,” he added.
Ferrari yesterday created a flutter by announcing on their official website that it will show its support for Italian sailors by racing with military symbols on its cars’ livery at the second edition of the Indian GP, to be held at the Buddh International Circuit from October 26-28.
The Italian team, on their website, said that they would be paying tribute to the navy as “one of the outstanding entities of our country”. The cars will be driven by Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.
Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, the marines on board the Italian ship ‘Enrica Lexie’, had allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen-Valentine Jalastine and Ajesh Bi-on February 15 in Kerela’s Kollam city, apparently mistaking them for pirates.
They were detained on February 19 and were sent to Central Prison in Thiruvananthpuram. Later on, they were granted bail in June but on the condition that they must remain in Indian territory. (ANI)