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Unruly AFCON Reporters Trigger CAF Clampdown
- Updated: February 5, 2024
The ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in the Ivory Coast witnesses a crackdown by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on journalists due to their unruly behavior. The incidents prompted CAF to issue new guidelines and tighten media access, consulting with local police to address the situation.
The on-pitch drama at AFCON has been overshadowed by the inappropriate actions of journalists, involving abuse, fighting, and even near-nudity, creating an unfavorable subplot.
“There was someone dancing naked in the media tribune,” shared a CAF media official at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan, explaining the necessity of the new guidelines. “We cannot have that.”
In response, CAF issued a statement revealing their efforts to curb what they perceive as “unprofessional and unbecoming behavior” after discussions with Ivorian authorities.
“CAF has noted the escalating unbecoming and unprofessional behavior of some ‘media practitioners’ in working spaces at the Africa Cup of Nations,” stated the release. “CAF met with the Local Organizing Committee and police to discuss the situation and find workable solutions.
“While we understand that we are all football fans and are passionate about our national teams, journalists are expected to observe professional standards.”
CAF declared its intention to expel and revoke the accreditation of media practitioners involved in “wild celebrations and abuses [of] other media colleagues.” The organization also announced a zero-tolerance approach to fighting among journalists.
“Any media practitioner who uses vulgar [language] in media areas either against coaches, players or his/her peers will have the accreditation withdrawn,” added the statement. The clampdown also includes bans on live streaming in the mixed zone, the use of drones, and unauthorized media filming within the stadium.
Journalists, following Ghana’s 2-2 draw with Mozambique, shouted abuse at players in the mixed zone and heckled former Ghana head coach Chris Hughton. Ivory Coast players faced barracking by reporters after their 4-0 defeat by Equatorial Guinea. Matches like Senegal-Guinea and Morocco-South Africa witnessed clashes between jostling media packs.
The breaking point seemed to be the behavior of an accredited Ivorian reporter during his side’s victory over Senegal, as footage circulated showing the journalist’s near-naked dance in the media tribune.
“Between pitched battles, attacks, invectives, it is a distressing spectacle that certain colleagues have been delivering to the world since the start of AFCON,” noted the International Sports Press Association in a statement. “The media workspaces [gallery, mixed zone, conference room] have been transformed into a boxing ring, or even simply transformed into a dancefloor or performance zone hosted by media badge holders.”
In response, media access to Nigeria’s quarterfinal against Angola in Abidjan was regulated to an unprecedented degree. A maximum of 250 journalists were admitted to the media tribune, with limited access for photographers, marking a significant change from previous tournament standards.
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By- Sahiba Suri