A journalist from the German public television channel saw his accreditation for Euro matches in St. Petersburg withdrawn at the request of the Russian authorities. He is notably known for several very critical reports on Russia.
24 selections, 11 host cities and a total of 51 matches… The Euro starts this Friday and will see the best teams in Europe face off until the grand final on July 11 at Wembley. Despite the coronavirus epidemic, the competition will be held in a semblance of normalcy with supporters and journalists in the stadiums.
Well, almost … The journalist of the German public television ARD Robert Kempe had his accreditations withdrawn for the matches scheduled in St. Petersburg canceled at the request of the Russian authorities. A decision taken after his critical reports on Russia but condemned by the association of German journalists.
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An “unacceptable” attack on press freedom
In a statement published on Friday, the opening day of the tournament, “the German Association of Journalists (DJV) protests against the exclusion of ARD reporter Robert Kempe from the Euro in Russia”.
This “unacceptable attack on press freedom (…) once again shows that Russia does not want critical articles, and that these have consequences for journalists”, denounces the Association, which issues press cards in Germany. The DJV “expects UEFA to use its influence on the local authorities so that our colleague can work.”
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However, the European body replied in a statement that it was “not in a position to modify such a decision or to obtain detailed information on the reasons for the rejection of the request”.
The accreditation of the reporter remains valid on all other sites of the Euro, specifies the UEFA which must also manage the controversy of the jersey of Ukraine for the Euro. A tunic that angered Russia.
Robert Kempe, who specializes in investigating the links between sport and politics, recently worked on the relationship between Russian gas giant Gazprom and UEFA, which he has a critical eye on.
Before the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he had carried out investigations on sensitive subjects for Russia, in particular on Chechnya, or on the hiring of North Korean workers for the construction of a stadium in Moscow.