UK: NUJ to report attacks on journalists by "so-called" England football fans

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) is to report incidents of violence against journalists and videographers covering the Euro 21 football final to an inquiry opened by the sport's governing body UEFA. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) supports the move of its UK affiliate and calls on the authorities to take action to prevent such incidents from recurring.

Credits: Niklas HALLE'N / AFP

The NUJ reported several attacks against media workers covering the match, including:

• One news agency photographer tweeted: “Spent the day being threatened by England "fans” in London. Then some nice Italian fans turned up celebrating their win... Shortly after they left as groups of England fans chased them away shouting ‘wog, wog, wog’.”  When contacted by the NUJ, he said a full can of cider had been thrown at him, missing by 10 centimetres. He added that other photographers covering the Euros he had spoken with had faced the same kind of abuse.

• A videographer was pushed and his camera grabbed several times by a group of youths near a line of police in Leicester Square. The youths demanded he stop filming, or they would beat him up.

• A videographer at Wembley was told to stop filming by a group when his camera was slung over his shoulder, facing the ground and not switched on. He then faced a barrage of abuse and was called a peadophile and told if he worked for The Sun they would beat him up.

• One videographer who reported being threatened by a knife from an England supporter said: “The amount of racism I witnessed was equal to any far right protest I have ever covered in my 16-year career as a video journalist, not just against black English players, but also against Scottish, German and Italian fans. Often the opposing fans were chased off by England fans under the threat of violence if they stayed. I personally faced nothing but welcome from the opposing fans, not one case of abuse or threat.”

According to the NUJ, the level of abuse and violence their members have experienced while reporting on matches and fans viewing the games is shocking.

Our members have told us about having missiles thrown at them, threats of violence and insults while lawfully doing their jobs. They have also witnessed disgusting racist behaviour from the so-called fans”, the NUJ reported.

NUJ General Secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, said: “This falls into a pattern of increasing intimidation and violence against the press on the streets of the UK. Such behaviour has been exhibited during recent anti-lockdown protests. The union’s concern is that the police have not always come to the aid of journalists and videographers who are being attacked. We will reporting these incidents to the UEFA inquiry and raising them with the police.”

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “We are deeply concerned over the NUJ’s reports on attacks and harassment of media workers who were simply doing their job and the failure of the police to protect journalists under attack. These incidents must be fully investigated”.