By Frank Cole
The Association of International Sports Press (AIPS) representative in the world’s football governing body FIFA Media Committee has said that the Federation does not tolerate any form of discrimination.
Gianni Marlo, who is President of AIPS, made this assertion while responding to delegates regarding concerns of discrimination for accreditation to FIFA organized competitions by their local football associations. He was speaking during the recently concluded AIPS-Africa Congress in Dakar, Senegal.
The delegates, mainly from Sierra Leone, Benin and Nigeria, had posed their concerns regarding discrimination by their local FAs to a Media Consultant Suleiman Habuba, the former CAF Communications Director who delivered a paper on ‘The role of the media in FIFA World Cup’.
The delegates vehemently argued that the Football Associations in their countries usually sideline sports journalists they consider as critical of their administrations when it comes to accreditation for FIFA events. They advocated for the procedure to be changed in order to have the right people cover such competitions.
“Instead of dealing with the local Football Associations, FIFA should consider dealing with accredited international sports bodies like the AIPS in terms of issuing out accreditation to cover FIFA competitions,” they posited.
Responding, Merlo said: “It is a big mistake by Africa FAs to discriminate against those sports journalists they consider as their critics but this is not a problem in Europe.”
He said the issue should not be looked at from a personal angle but rather, there should be written proof with regards discrimination for FIFA accreditation “because FIFA frowns at any form of discrimination”.
He pointed out that one of the reasons responsible for this is that some local sports journalist associations allowed themselves to be compromised instead of ‘fighting’ for the common good.
“Having two different sports associations in a country shows that you are weak, therefore you must first build up the power to negotiate as a single body,” Merlo said.
The AIPS President and FIFA Media Committee member said it is not easy to reverse the present FIFA-local Football Associations accreditation policy because it is a congressional issue.
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He said: “It is difficult to begin a revolution to negotiate a change from FIFA to local Football Associations, and from FIFA to accredited international sport bodies like the AIPS.”