The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the world footballing authorities to end an “intolerable” ban imposed on Andrew Jennings, a leading investigative journalist with a global reputation for exposing corruption in sport.
The IFJ said that to persist with the ban, which has been in force for three years, would undermine the Swiss-based International Federation of Football Association (FIFA) and its commitment to transparency.
The campaign against the reporter has involved exclusion from press conferences, threatening letters, and a persistent refusal to respond to documented and serious charges of maladministration.
“The Jennings experience illustrates just how difficult life becomes for investigative journalists when powerful institutions give the impression they are answerable to no one and beyond criticism,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.
The IFJ says FIFA should live up to its declared principles of openness and co-operate fully with Jennings and other investigative reporters.
“Public trust depends absolutely upon open and accountable government and FIFA should be in the forefront of setting standards of transparency,” said White in a letter to FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
The ban on Jennings was imposed following newspaper and television reports alleging bribery, secrecy, and corruption within the organisation. The FIFA President himself has been accused of secrecy surrounding his salary, bonuses, perks, and allowances from FIFA.
The IFJ says the case reflects a long-running problem of institutional hostility faced by journalists investigating world sports. For almost 20 years, global sports has been hit by scandals over doping, business deal,s and bribery. Jennings himself is the co-author of The Lords of the Rings, a scathing attack on the International Olympic Committee and its former President Juan Antonio Samaranch.
“His trenchant and independent reporting has delivered some hard truths that, although unpalatable to some, contribute to an important public debate about the need for reform and change,” said White. “The world of sports needs to become more aware of its public responsibilities and needs to outlaw internal secrecy. FIFA can lead the way by ending this ban and by answering legitimate questions, no matter how difficult they may be, honestly and in full.”
For further information contact the IFJ: +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries