“Qatar’s Sports Media Awards are like a middle finger” / Villamedia

There should be no AIPS Awards ceremonies and conferences in countries where freedom of expression and freedom of the press are not guaranteed. The Dutch Sports Press (NSP) informs Villamedia upon request. This conclusion followed the decision of the International Federation of Sports Press to host the 2022 Sports Media Awards in Doha, Qatar, last Sunday.

Last change: Jun 13, 2022 at 10:24am

“We are very surprised by this latest decision,” says Gerard Dean Elt, NSP General Secretary. It was a stealing technique. Marco Neppen, president of the NSP, adds that states were not aware this was coming.

The Dutch sports press makes their statement in concrete form in a proposal they want to present at the fall conference of the International Federation of Sports Press in October this year in Rome. There is hope for wider support, mainly from Western European countries. Den Aelt explains that “previous cooperation, which followed the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the beginning of this year, ensured the absence of any Russian and Belarusian influences in the governing bodies of AIPS.”

In the past year, there has already been a discussion, sparked by the NSP, about how the Sports Media Awards, among others, are funded by the Qatar Press Committee. “It feels like a middle finger that he’s still going to be stuck there after a year,” Kneppen says.

No one from the NSP board attended the awards ceremony in Doha, and the live broadcast was not watched. There were already no Dutch finalists. In his personal capacity, there was (possibly) a Dutch jury member present, but the NSP has no role in jury appointments.

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President AIPS Defends Choice
Discussing the above conclusions on Wednesday 8 June, Geo Leibniz, Dutch board member of AIPS Europe, stated that he supports the position of the NSP and is following it up.

The NSP Board of Directors did not encounter any understanding from AIPS President Gianni Merlo during that meeting. Defend the Qatar selection via video call. “We had to change our position and didn’t get any closer during the conversation,” the board members said.

According to Merlot, moving to these kinds of countries can really start change. Den Elt and Kneppen have a different opinion. It is not about the duty of journalists to report somewhere where you can also be a critic; “This is her party,” says Dean Elt. A party that also takes place at one of the infamous stadiums, Khalifa Stadium. Nepin agrees that we should not dance on the graves of migrant workers.

The plight of the candidates
The International Federation of Sports Journalists is an umbrella organization of national associations of sports journalists. Press cards are issued to enable you to work internationally as a sports journalist, such as major events such as the Olympic Games and the World Cup.

The fact that such an influential press organization is making this choice is particularly poignant, according to Den Elt and Nippen. Kneppen: ‘It also creates an equal footing for nominated journalists. Now they have to decide if they want to be in such a country to receive their journalistic award.

The proposal will first be submitted to AIPS Europe and submitted to the AIPS Global Council at the beginning of July. Suggestions are rare at AIPS conferences and the NSP doesn’t want to speculate much. “Countries will eventually vote, but for us, it is mainly about positioning themselves on a moral and ethical level,” according to Den Elt and Nippen. “It’s also an important expression without consequence.”

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