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FIFA’s shocking arrogance

October 31st, 2007 by fruelund · 1 Comment

The international Soccer federation, FIFA, is using the well known weapon of exclusion against critical sportsjournalists. German journalist Jens Weinreich came close to a place on the black list and the British journalist Andrew Jennings are no longer invited to FIFA events. Shockingly arrogant says general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, Aidan White, to THEPULSE.

Andrew Jennings has dug into corruption in FIFA for a long time, and has been put on the association’s blacklist of Persona non Gratas. German journalist Jens Weinrich chose to author the book ‘Corruption in sports’ which almost earned him a place on FIFA’s blacklist. Both spoke at Wednesdays morning session at the sports conference Play the Game.

- It shows the shocking arrogance of FIFA and the complete lack of interest in transparency in the organization. FIFA themselves explains that they do not wish to cooperate with ‘improper’ journalists, but they choose what improper is themselves. The bottom line is, that the warning is clear for the journalists, says Aidan White.

Under the World Cup in Germany, Jens Weinreich got his hands on the minutes from a meeting at FIFA’s ethical committee. The committee had unanimously votes to declare him a persona non grata.

Jens Weinreich contacted FIFA to ask, if this was true. Very soon he got an invitation to have a meeting with the big man himself, Sepp Blatter.

- He said: Everything is ok. But nothing was ok, because I had the document that said I was declared a persona non grata. But Blatter told me, that I was not, because the executive committee had chosen not to follow the ethical committee’s decision, says Jens Weinreich.

It had been a close call though, and Mr. Blatter had some more questions.

- It seemed like he was mostly interested in knowing how I had gotten my hands on the documents from the ethical committee. They have spend a lot of money on security in FIFA, so they don’t like documents to get out, says Mr. Weinreich.

The practice of blacklisting journalists that do critical stories is well known. Aidan White points out, that it is also often seen in politics. The fact that the colleagues of blacklisted journalists do not react is harmful for all, says Aidan White.

- When journalists accept this, and go along with it, you create an unhealthy and unethical form of journalism.

Apparently, that is exactly what many journalists do. This makes FIFA’s job much easier, as there are not a lot of critical voices to fight.

- There are not a lot of people for them to deal with. There are Andrew Jennings, two guys from Germany and now a guy in Switzerland. But honestly, that is all the persons I can mention, that writes critically about FIFA, says Jens Weinreich.

Strangely, FIFA’s attention to Mr. Weinreich has let to the opposite of a blacklist.

- I know they pay attention to me, because after the critical stories, I get answers very fast. Also, they know it almost immediately when I publish articles, like the same evening we publish, says Weinreich.

The International Federation of Journalists is fighting the trend of blacklisting, and the battle is far from lost.

- To fight the problem, I think we need to continue campaigning. We have to raise awareness of the problem within the journalistic circles. We have to speak up, and raise awareness when we see these examples of journalists being blacklisted. I think that what we’re doing here, at Play the Game, is a good start, ends Aidan White.

Tags: Theme: Autonomy of sport

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