FIFA does itself no favours with the press pack.


Just when the focus of the entire football world – all 209 nations – is on FIFA at crisis time so the world federation is restricting media visibility of Sepp Blatter’s scheduled press conference tomorrow [Friday].

Just when total transparency would appear to be the least fans and media around the world should expect, so the world federation is taking what appears to be a mistaken public step backwards.

In Marrakech president Sepp Blatter is scheduled to lead a press conference after a two-day meeting of the executive committee . . . a meeting which has assumed even greater significance than before after Michael Garcia’s resignation as ethics investigator.

At the exco meeting members were scheduled to debate a proposal from Germany’s Theo Zwanziger about whether ‘retrospective legislation’ should be enacted to alter the ethics code statutes and permit publication of the Garcia Report into the 2018-2022 World Cup bid scandal.

Approval of the proposal appears unlikely, given the opposition to Garcia’s inquiry which already existed among the ‘old guard.’

The later announcement concerning the proposal in particular and the meeting in general is, as stated, an issue in itself.

Two weeks ago FIFA’s media department confirmed that it had ended the policy of live streaming of Blatter’s exco press conferences via the internet.

Instead it will substitute a recording of the press conference three hours later, far beyond media deadlines in many countries. This risks creating a perception of first-class and second-class media.

AIPS (the international sports press association) raised this issue and the concerns of its worldwide journalistic membership with FIFA. To no avail.

Some 11 countries were concerned directly by the voting on December 2, 2010. Their media (and fans and tax-payers) risk being restricted in discovering, as soon as possible, precisely how FIFA is considering a scandal even greater than the ISL bribes case.

FIFA media officials deny completely and utterly any suggestion that such a time-delay system might ever be used to edit out embarrassing moments under the guise of a ‘technical faults’ or ‘connectivity issues.’

Even so, the timing this week of such a retrograde step in terms of visibility appears especially unfortunate.

FIFA’s reasoning:

** A FIFA spokesperson explained the basis for the live-stream decision to AIPS thus:

On request of many of your colleague and in order to honour their on-site presence at media events (and their investments to travel to attend our media events) we have decided against live streaming of our press conference.

However, we will put the press conference a few hours (as soon as technical possible subject to internet connectivity to upload the file) as a re-live on our website.

Rest assured that we also understand your position but we have really weighed pros and cons based on the various feedback received from the media and made a not easy decision based on these facts.

The points have been also acknowledged and understood by your colleagues such as [named journalist].

** Members of the media committee, chaired by Sunil Gulati, have not met for six months and were thus not aware of the live stream decision.

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