UPDATE: On 15th November 2018, shortly after the publication of the profile below, Wolfgang Srb withdrew his candidature to become the next president of the FIM. He also resigned from his current position of FIM Europe President.
An authoritarian figure with an air of aloofness and an obvious superiority complex, 'The W' (as Srb is referred to) is despised throughout the motocross world championship paddock. His ‘my way or the highway’ approach, combined with an insistence on having the last word in any discussion, has proved deeply unpopular. This trait has also caused representatives from various European motorcycle federations to take an intense dislike to him. His working relationship with Giuseppe Luongo isn’t just close but positively incestuous (and has been since the mid-1990s). We've always thought that any representative of the governing body should maintain a suitable professional distance from the rights holder so as to avoid any accusations of favoritism. The Srb-Luongo axis often looks/ed unhealthy.
Against this backdrop, we have recently turned our attention to Dr. Srb during his campaign to become leader of the FIM. Our motivation for doing so was to provide a better understanding of who Wolfgang Srb is, as existing profiles - like this one from Speedweek (a pro-Srb website) - are devoid of information and previous articles - like this puff piece in MXGP Magazine - barely scratch the surface (which is hardly surprising as it's published by Youthstream). Given that Srb is almost entirely unknown in the MotoGP and SBK communities (teams, event sponsors, circuit owners/operators, broadcast partners, accredited media etc.), we think it is important for the wider motorcycling world, along with the voting federations, to understand more about the potential next leader of the governing body.
After conducting an extensive program of research, our findings paint a vivid picture of someone whose political and societal beliefs make him incompatible with the position of FIM president, as:
Let’s tell you more about The Man Who Might Be President (but hopefully won’t be).
As anyone who has overheard Srb’s offensive jokes made within the MXGP paddock, or witnessed one of his famed media center outbursts, will attest, he frequently doesn’t know when to keep his opinions to himself. We have discovered that this characteristic isn’t confined to verbal utterances. Kronen Zeitung is a popular Austrian daily newspaper with an overtly anti-EU, anti-migrant, politically right-of-center stance and tone. It contains a 'Letters to the Editor' section called 'Das Freie Wort' ('The Free Word'). Between July 2007 and July 2008, Wolfgang Srb made frequent written submissions and was published on 72 known occasions. While Kronen Zeitung's online archive does not stretch back to the period when the emails and letters were featured in Das Freie Wort, a publicly accessible digital repository located in Europe does still contain the material. What luck! And we’ve downloaded, translated, examined and stored every single entry. If you want to do the same you'll find the archive here.
Some are on mundane themes: a musical concert; the Viennese ball season; the performance of Austria’s national football team. Others are dedicated to more sensitive subjects. Our analysis has found that:
Let’s give you some verbatim examples, all of which are signed as ‘Dr. Wolfgang Srb’.
Anti-EU / 8th April 2008
"Nun, als man uns mit Schalmeienklängen in die EU gelockt hat, haben alle wichtigen Politiker geschworen, dass wir auch als kleines Land in der EU unsere vollen Rechte haben werden. Jetzt opfern sie mit Freude unsere Souveränität und Neutralität auf dem Altar der Brüsseler EU-Götzen und haben nicht einmal ein schlechtes Gewissen dabei."
(Translation: "Well, when we were lured into the EU, all the important politicians have sworn that we, as a small country in the EU, will have our full rights. Now they are happy to sacrifice our sovereignty and neutrality on the altar of the Brussels EU idols and do not even have a guilty conscience.")
You can see the full version here.
Anti-migrant / 25th May 2008
"Die Jugendkriminalität explodiert; nicht einmal mehr die geschicktesten Statistiker können das verbergen. Ausländer führen diese grauenhafte Liste an. Die links-grünen Gutmenschen, sonst um keine Wortspende verlegen, wenn es gegen vermeintlich Rechte geht, sind stumm und hoffen, das Problem durch Wegschauen zu lösen."
(Translation: "The juvenile crime explodes; not even the most skilled statisticians can hide that. Foreigners head this gruesome list. The left-green do-gooders, don't say a word unless it goes against alleged rights, are dumb and hope to solve the problem by looking away.")
You can see the full version here.
Anti-asylum / 8th December 2007
"Ein 22-jähriger "Vater" wirft seine kleine Tochter aus dem Fenster, weil er Streit mit seiner 18-jährigen Partnerin hatte. Das Mädchen stirbt, die junge Mutter ist nicht ansprechbar. Der Mann ist - natürlich, möchte man fast sagen - Asylant. Ich bin schon gespannt, welche Reaktionen seitens der Politik kommen werden. Von den Grünen beispielsweise, die sich schon lange nicht mehr für die Umwelt, sondern nur noch für (kriminelle) Asylanten einsetzen."
(Translation: "A 22-year-old "father" throws his little daughter out of the window because he had quarrels with his 18-year-old partner. The girl dies, the young mother is unresponsive. The man is - of course, one could almost say - an asylum seeker. I am curious what reactions will come from politics. By the Greens, for example, who have long ceased to care about the environment, but only for (criminal) asylum seekers.")
You can see the full version here.
Anti-multiculturalism / 29th November 2007
"Wer jetzt noch immer von Multikulti träumt, dem ist nicht mehr zu helfen: 44% aller Häftlinge in Österreich sind Ausländer. Der Preis, den wir für offene Grenzen zahlen, ist denn doch zu hoch. Der Kriminaltourismus, getarnt als "Flucht armer Asylanten aus bösen Heimatländern", nimmt ständig zu."
(Translation: "Anyone who still dreams of multiculturalism can no longer be helped: 44% of all inmates in Austria are foreigners. The price we pay for open borders is too high. Crime tourism, camouflaged as the "escape of poor asylum seekers from evil homelands," is constantly increasing.")
You can see the full version here.
Homophobic / 14th October 2007
"Die ÖVP will es allen recht machen und wird genau daran scheitern. Ein bisserl Familie, ein wenig Homo-Ehe, ein wenig Bildung, ein bisserl Steuerrecht - das wars? Ach ja: kein Wort zur Volksabstimmung über die EU-Verfassung...wenn eine ehemals christlich-soziale Familienpartei wirklich glaubt, mit dem Thema Homo-Ehe zu punkten, dann hat sie überhaupt nichts verstanden."
(Translation: "The ÖVP wants to please everyone and will fail. A bit of a family, a little homosexual marriage, a little education, a bit of tax law - that's it? Oh yes, not a word on the referendum on the EU Constitution...if a formerly Christian-social family party really hopes to score with the topic of gay marriage, then it has not understood anything.")
You can see the full version here.
Several others topics caught our eye.
Deportations / 16th December 2007
In 2007, the deportation from Austria of an Albanian family made national and international headlines. A father and 4 of his children were forcibly returned to Kosovo, with the mother and a remaining child going into hiding. The Zogaj case shone a bright light onto the issue of migration and asylum. An appeal was made to allow them to reunite and remain in Austria, but this was rejected. Srb voiced his approval via Das Freie Wort on 16th December 2007:
"Dank an Platter Der Verfassungsgerichtshof hat die Beschwerde der Familie Zogaj zurückgewiesen, danach hat Innenminister Platter ein humanitäres Aufenthaltsrecht abgelehnt. Österreich ist, Gott sei Dank, ein Rechtsstaat, der sich nicht auf Zuruf missbrauchen lässt. Innenminister Platter ist für sein klaren Bekenntnis dazu, Dank und Hochachtung auszusprechen."
(Translation: "Thanks to Platter The Constitutional Court rejected the appeal of the Zogaj family, after which Interior Minister Platter refused a humanitarian right of residence. Austria is, thank God, a constitutional state that can not be abused by accusation. Thanks and respect to Interior Minister Platter for his clear commitment.")
You can see the full version here.
Applauding the decision to deport a family is nothing to be proud of.
Foreigners in Switzerland / 14th December 2007
Another of his Kronen Zeitung submissions, made on 14th December 2007, praised Christoph Blocher, the controversial Swiss politician with strong eurosceptic and anti-immigration views, describing him as a "gifted populist" who was being denied a seat in government because "he addressed the problem of foreigners in Switzerland and referred to black sheep". Srb blamed "the united left, Greens and other politically correct MPs" from preventing Blocher's re-election.
If Dr. Srb becomes president, he has already announced that he "will transfer his residence to the FIM headquarters in Mies [Switzerland]". Watch out for those 'problematic foreigners', Wolfgang.
Humanitarian refugee mission in Chad / 18th & 30th January 2008
Srb's Kronen Zeitung commentary on political happenings beyond the Austrian border was not limited to the situation in Switzerland. Austria's military involvement in a European Union EUFOR mission in Chad, where 160 Austrian soldiers helped protect refugees from the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur, also motivated two emails from Srb to Kronen Zeitung. In the first, sent on 18th January 2008, he described the humanitarian mission as "madness", and suggested the money could be spent on Austrian "jobs, education, healthcare, and a thousand other important things". In a clear sign of his anti-EU feelings, he made reference to the cost of the operation in Austrian Schillings (the defunct currency replaced by the Euro), and suggested Austria was only participating in order to "make a point in Brussels". On 30th January 2008, Srb returned to the theme of Austria's involvement in Chad, criticizing Ursula Plassnik, the Foreign Minister, for a guest commentary she made in Kronen Zeitung in which "the familiar phrases: UN, EU, humanitarian aid, refugees" were used. Srb feared that the mission would be a "possible threat to [Austria's] neutrality" and ended his email by making it clear that he disapproved of his country's support.
Vladimir Putin / 15th March 2008
On 15th March 2008, he was moved to send an email to Das Freie Wort following the recent Russian election, proclaiming that "Putin is right!", describing the nation as "one of the great and powerful in the world" and forecasting that if Chancellor Gusenbauer (Austria's social-democratic leader) was in charge, "Russia would sink into chaos and the world would be a good deal more uncertain".
Wolfgang Srb was 59 years old when he began sharing his thoughts with Kronen Zeitung's readership. His views cannot be dismissed as those of a naive youth. Nor can they be attributed merely to the ramblings of an ignorant, uneducated individual. He is a well-qualified man, let's not forget. Rather, these opinions can only be interpreted as a true, accurate reflection of the person that he is.
The Kronen Zeitung material clearly shows an intolerant man, seemingly uncomfortable with being part of a national, supranational and global society which is becoming inclusive, progressive and supportive [of those less fortunate]. While everybody is entitled to share opinions behind closed doors, Srb’s offensive, outmoded, publicly-expressed views are completely incompatible to high office within a global governing body. Item 4.3 in the FIM's Statutes makes it clear that the organization "...shall allow no political, religious, sexual or racial discrimination". Srb's beliefs seem completely at odds with this fundamental element.
The FIM is making a conscious effort to focus on issues which go beyond sport, with initiatives dedicated to ‘riding green’, ‘riding clean’, ‘women in motorcycling’, ‘tourism’ and ‘public affairs’. The FIM must represent and embrace diversity, living true to the words it has previously stated about "rallying fans of motorcycling around the values of respect for diversity, solidarity and fair play". We are not convinced Wolfgang Srb is the right man to lead the FIM forward on issues such as these.
Srb’s frequent contributions to Das Freie Wort suddenly ceased in mid-2008. Did he suddenly realize that airing inflammatory opinions in a national newspaper could be detrimental to his future career were they to subsequently be discovered? Or was he warned against continuing by a third party who saw the danger signals? It is difficult to conceive that the cessation of these newspaper submissions signifies a change of view. On the contrary, based on observed behavior Srb's attitude has, if anything, hardened markedly towards those members of society he considers deserving of his opprobrium.
Wolfgang Srb enjoyed commenting on sociopolitical issues via Das Freie Wort in the mid-2000s.
Back in the 1990s he was an active member of the Volkspartei Niederosterreich (The Lower Austrian People’s Party), the regional branch of the main national Austrian People’s Party, known as Osterreichische Volkspartei (‘OVP’). OVP is a conservative and Christian-democratic party, with links to Catholicism. In 1992, Srb was listed as a ‘pressesprecher’ (press officer) for the Volkspartei Niederosterreich. In 1995, he was a member of the Editorial team for a publication which acknowledged and celebrated 50 years of the Lower Austrian People’s Party. This must have been a reasonably important (i.e. senior) role, as one of his collaborators – Johanna Mikl-Leitner – later became party leader and has been the governor of Lower Austria since April 2017.
Politics is in his DNA.
Let's now go from the 1990s to the 1980s.
On 25th May 1983 the Magistrat der Stadt Wien (‘Vienna City Administration’) issued two separate commercial licenses to a 'Dr. Wolfgang Srb' (date of birth 19th August 1948) for ‘Taxi business, limited to the use of a passenger car’ . Both licenses list the same premises (Funfhausgasse 1, 1150 Wien). This is an address that will feature again momentarily. Records show that both licenses remain active. You can see them here and here.
In all honesty, we’re not entirely sure what to make of Srb’s taxi connection. There’s certainly nothing wrong with earning a living from driving: plenty of people do it around the world. We think it's unlikely that the current President of FIM Europe, and perhaps soon-to-be FIM President, has the time to ferry passengers around Vienna himself, given his many FIM commitments. Maybe he simply operates/d a sideline taxi business using contract drivers?
Prior to obtaining the taxi permits, on 19th May 1982 the Magistrat der Stadt Wien issued a business license to Dr. Srb for ‘HANDELSGEWERBE GEM. PAR. 103 ABS. 1 LIT B Z. 25 GEWO. 1973’. This license relates to ‘Commercial Trade According to Section 103 Section 1 Item B Number 25 of the Federal Act: Industrial Code of 1973’. Having read this act, we understand that the license in question is for a ‘Certificate of Competence for a Commercial Profession’. The Act lists over 80 professions, and the Certificate of Competence is only officially issued after two years in a recognized professional activity. However, it would be unwise for us to speculate as to exactly what profession Srb’s license was issued against. Instead, we'll stick to the known facts: this license was terminated on 6th January 2015.
Do you remember that address connected to Srb’s taxi licenses? It is Funfhausgasse 1, 1150 Wien, and since 1983 has been listed against Srb's name in the records as the official 'Location of Licensed Business'. We were very surprised to discover that this location was also the address of 'Club Losch'. This was a gay fetish and cruising establishment, which closed in January 2016. According to numerous reviews it was a popular place, with “a dark room, cabins, bar, sling and play zone”. The club also had a "golden shower" area, although we're not sure what went on in there.
The Kronen Zeitung submissions show Dr. Srb expressing homophobic views on two occasions, yet there was a gay fetish club operating from the very premises listed in the records as his 'Location of Licensed Business'. How unexpected! And ironic.
In case you're curious, you'll find pictures of Club Losch below.
Srb’s CV, submitted as part of his presidential candidature, gives no former employment details. He simply describes his profession as ‘Jurist’ (a 'legal expert' role). He offers no elaboration on what his work entailed or within which organization it was performed. Frankly, it’s all rather opaque.
Such brevity is also a little strange. The FIM's Statutes and By-laws state:
18.104.22.168 Elections / Criteria applicable to candidatures for the position of President
2. Every candidature must be accompanied by a detailed curriculum vitae of every candidate
We believe Srb's CV clearly fails to meet the criteria stipulated by the very organization he wishes to lead. The FIM, and in particular the vote-holding federations, should insist that he provides substantial details - with supporting evidence - of his professional and academic achievements. A single side of A4 is wholly inadequate for a position of such importance.
However, the MXGP Magazine article from August 2014 informs us that Srb was a “very successful legal expert at a well-known bank in Vienna”. We’ve been able to establish a connection to the Osterreichischer Genossenschaftsverband (‘OGV’). OGV is the auditing association used by both the Austrian Volksbanks (i.e. local banks) and approximately 100 goods, services and co-operative producers. Srb does appear to have been working for, or at least connected in some way to, OGV in 1986, as his contact details in the 1987 FIM Annuaire correlate with OGV’s (specifically their telex number of all things). By 1992, again thanks to FIM Annuaire records, we believe he’d moved on to Osterreichische Artze und Apothekerbank AG (Austrian Doctors and Pharmacists Bank), formerly known as the Bank fur Artze und Freie Befufe AG (Bank for Doctors and Freelancers).
Wolfgang Srb lives with his wife Brigitte in a quiet suburb of Vienna, in a pleasant yet unremarkable four-storey home. The Srb’s have made steady progress on the property ladder, moving from an apartment in the Ottakring district to their present location on the fringes of the city limits, not far from the green fields and forests of Lower Austria.
However, should the fancy take them, the Srb’s can jump into one of their cars and in less than 4 hours be at their holiday home in the picturesque setting of Lake Ossiach in the Austrian state of Carinthia. Planning permission was granted in 2009 and construction completed in 2011. While their Vienna residence is unremarkable, the Lake Ossiach property is spectacular, situated right on the shoreline and incorporating several cutting-edge design features. So impressive is this property that the architect, Dipl. -Ing. Manfred Guldner, was sufficiently proud of his work to dedicate a showpiece feature to it on his website (it’s listed under ‘Wohnhaus am Ossiacher See, 2011’).
While we don't begrudge anyone achieving financial success, we have to admit we are surprised that the earnings of a jurist, combined with what we understand to be a modest FIM salary earned during his years in the CMS, could stretch to funding a nice house in Vienna and building a lavish holiday home in the Austrian Lakes. Maybe he cashed-in some shares?
In closing, we hope the majority of delegates representing 113 national federations at the FIM General Assembly in Andorra on 1st December 2018 vote for Srb's opponent. Motorcycle sport will live to regret it if they don’t.
Whether Srb is present in the Pyrenean principality when the announcement of the winner is made remains to be seen, as he’s currently incapacitated due to a spinal injury. Wolfgang, all of us at MXGP Action Group wish you a speedy recovery.
MXGP Action Group