Bernie Ecclestone: 'I agree with Vladimir Putin's anti-gay laws, and so does 90% of world'
Formula One boss gives his support for Russia’s controversial laws ahead of the first Russian Grand Prix this year
Bernie Ecclestone has said that not only does he "completely agree" with Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay propaganda laws, but that he believes "90 per cent of the world" do too.
In an ill-advised move, the Formula One boss lent his support for Russia’s controversial legislation, which prohibits the publicity of what it calls "homosexual behaviour" in the country.
"He [Putin] hasn't said he doesn't agree [with homosexuality] just that he doesn't want these things publicised to an audience under the age of 18," Ecclestone told CNN in an exclusive interview.
"I completely agree with those sentiments and if you took a world census you'd find 90% of the world agree with it as well."
"I've great admiration for him and his courage to say what he says," the 83-year-old added. "[It] may upset a few people but that's how the world is. It's how he sees [the world] and I think he's completely right."
The legislation, which was introduced last year, caused widespread outrage around the world, especially surrounding the current Sochi Winter Olympic Games, which has so far seen many members of the international sporting community rally together in protest.
Ecclestone's sudden show of support for the leader may have been influenced by his recent contact with the Russian regime. He first met Putin in February of last year when he flew to Sochi to check out the construction progress ahead of Russia’s very first grand prix in the city in October.
The Black Sea location will stage round 16 of this year’s world championship on a circuit that is set to run around the current Olympic Park facilities.
The F1 billionaire is also no stranger to controversy, either. During the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2012, while pro-democracy protests were being staged, Ecclestone told reporters questioning the ethical issues behind holding the event on the Middle Eastern island: "Go to Syria and write about those things there because it’s more important than here."
Ecclestone is due to face trial in Germany in April charged with making corrupt payments to a banker who worked alongside him on the sale of Formula 1 in 2006. The motorsports mogul denies all charges, as well as those brought against him in a civil case in London. There, he stood accused of undervaluing the sport in connection with the same deal.
He won the civil action in a court case on Thursday. Although his evidence was labelled "not reliable or truthful" by the judge presiding, it was ruled that German company Constantin Medien’s claim for compensation was without merit.