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Football association head assaults journalist

(MISA/IFEX) - The Namibian Football Association (NFA) Secretary General Barry Rukoro punched a journalist in the face at a media event at Soccer House on 24 May 2011.

Andreas Novotny, a freelance journalist, said he was punched by Rukoro after he insisted on getting questions answered by the soccer official. This happened shortly after the kit-launch of the Leo Namibia Football Association Cup finalists.

According to the weekly tabloid, "Informante", the incident was preceded by a verbal altercation between Rukoro and the freelance journalist during a press briefing about the suspension of Civic Soccer Team player Heini Isaacs from the finals. Rukoro threatened to throw the journalist out of his press briefing after declining to answer a question repeatedly posed by the journalist, saying he had "no time to waste on people who are trying to be smarter than they actually are".

According to Novotny, Rukoro refused to answer his questions and instead attempted to evict him from the venue while the launch was in progress. Rukoro allegedly approached Novotny after the launch and punched him in the face, accusing him of being a "foreigner" who was trying to undermine what goes on at the Soccer House.

MISA's position

MISA condemns the assault of journalists who are doing their professional work. The reaction of Barry Rukoro was unprofessional, undermines the freedom of the media in Namibia and must be stopped. MISA calls on the NFA and Rukoro to publicly apologise for the unruly behavior that Rukoro displayed toward Novotny or face prosecution for assaulting and violating the right of a professional journalist. Furthermore, MISA calls on NFA management to discipline Rukoro to prevent damage to the NFA's reputation. The NFA is a public body which is accountable to the public and Rukoro's outright failure to provide information to the media was an clear attempt to shield the Association from public scrutiny.

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