ASUNCIÓN: South American sports journalists have complained about a  decision by the continental football federation to limit press accreditation for the forthcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers to rights holders.

A statement from AIPS America, which advocates a dialogue between the sports journalists association and football association in each country, said:

Sports journalists join other components of the immense and passionate football family to celebrate the return of domestic and international competitions, making their way through the difficulties posed by a pandemic that unfortunately forces us to develop within the new normal.

This is a follow-up to the statement issued by our entity on September 3 on the occasion of the return of the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Sudamericana. On that occasion, we prioritised the goal of getting the ball rolling again – for which an arduous and meritorious work by CONMEBOL was necessary to obtain the consent of the governments of the ten countries of the region – over concerns that the danger of restrictions on mainly the written media and non-rights holders could become permanent with the passage of time, even in the face of better scenarios.

A few days before the start of the South American qualifiers for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, we have been able to verify that the provisions adopted for the sports press in the matches of the first two dates are quite similar to those in place during the Copa Libertadores, with slight differences from one country to another, but essentially based on granting quotas to only media with rights and some flexibility for the presence of photojournalists.

This is despite the fact that FIFA, the entity to which the competition belongs, released on October 1 a protocol for the return of international football, in which the parameters described there are nothing more than referential, granting local authorities the possibility of “involving the competent local authorities…” for decision-making.

AIPS America, as the continental representative of AIPS, which brings together sports journalists from more than 160 national associations in the world, including those of the ten member countries of CONMEBOL, is the competent authority in matters of sports press and will gladly cooperate in making decisions that will result in fair working conditions for journalism; avoiding exclusions, while recognizing the condition of essential actors in the media with rights, as well as the limitation of quotas and respect for the essential health regime in the face of an evil that has coexisted among us from the beginning of the current year.

We hope that our voices, represented by the national associations of sports journalists in each participating country of the South American World Cup qualifiers, will be heard. They represent the desire to establish a practical, simple and realistic work regime, with the purpose of ensuring that journalists comply with their supreme law, which is to collect, prepare and disseminate truthful information. The best way to do it is from the scene of the events.

Signed for AIPS America, by general secretary, Moisés Ávalos and president Gabriel Cazenave.