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Football officials incite players to hurt, abuse journalists

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 16 September 2008 IFJ media release:

EFJ Condemns Romanian Football Chiefs over Incitement to Violence Against Media

The International Federation of Journalists and its European group, the European Federation of Journalists, today condemned the administrators of football in Romania for encouraging violent attacks on sports journalists.

The Romanian Football Federation (FRF), led by president Mircea Sandu, a member of the Executive Committee of the European Football Federation UEFA, has encouraged some football professionals in Romania to act violently, including throwing stones and being abusive, against journalists and the media.

"It is a scandal that football players are being encouraged to throw stones at journalists by their managers and officials," said EFJ Chair Arne König. "The EFJ cannot understand why such hooligan behaviour can take place without sanctions."

The protests arise following incidents before a World Cup qualifying game between Romania and Lithuania on 6 September when players of the national football team threw stones at journalists and hurled abuse at them. The press officer of FRF ordered the journalists "to stay ten meters away from the players."

Last month the sports editor of the Monitor newspaper, Ionel Lutan, was physically attacked by Stefan Chitu, president of CSM Club in Ploiesti and a member of the FRF national executive committee. A similar incident happened when the coach of Politehnica Iasi team, Ionut Popa, assaulted reporters from Romanian Television. No action has been taken over these attacks.

The EFJ is backing the complaints of its Romanian affiliate, MediSind, to the president of UEFA Michel Platini over these incidents. "This is shocking and unacceptable behaviour from the leaders of sport in Romania," said König. Europe's football authorities should intervene to put an end to such intimidation."

The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists in over 30 countries in Europe.

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