/ 25 November 2009

Media concerned over Fifa’s terms

Football governing body Fifa and South African media are locked in a stand-off over restrictive terms and conditions imposed by Fifa on journalists and their publications, Business Day reported on Wednesday.

At issue is a clause in the accreditation agreement that binds publications to the same rules as those that bind their reporters attending matches or official Fifa events.

According to another clause, behaviour harmful to Fifa’s and the local organising committee’s image can be punished by summary withdrawal of accreditation.

There is also concern over a clause allowing Fifa to revoke the accreditation of a reporter and his or her publication without discussion and without any mechanism to address the ”breach” that caused the withdrawal of the accreditation.

The first clause would prohibit normal coverage of a news event at a team hotel, such as a labour strike, while there is concern the second clause would prevent critical reporting of the World Cup and its organisation.

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) is negotiating with Fifa over the points of conflict in the accreditation agreement. Sanef representative Raymond Louw said some sort of agreement was possible.

This could include the addition of words saying normal editorial practice would prevail in cases of reporting that was potentially critical of Fifa.

It also appears the media will have to sign agreements before they have seen the codes of conduct.

Part of the problem is that media institutions have to sign up to the media channel of Fifa’s website. Once this is done they are bound by Fifa’s rules even before they have seen the terms and conditions.

Comment was not immediately available from the local organising committee, the publication reported. — Sapa