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Banning Football Coverage, Sri Lankan Journalist Regrets Football Federation’s Decision

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DILI, – Sports journalists in Sri Lanka deeply regret the decision of the President of the Sri Lanka Football Federation to ban journalists from covering football matches.

President of the Sri Lanka Association of Professional Sports Journalists, Karuppiah Ramakrishnan, in an open letter of protest received by the VIP TV editorial team, they stated that the decision issued was very contrary to press freedom.

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“I am writing this letter to inform you that Sri Lanka Football has taken the decision to ban journalists from covering football events in Sri Lanka. As a supporter of press freedom and the important role of journalists in providing information to the public, I find this development disturbing and counterproductive to the principles of transparency and accountability. “When asking the President of Sri Lanka Football, Jaswer Umar said they will only allow journalists who only carry out the famous massage convoy with the current committee, and if someone shows consecutive criticism, they will be banned by Sri Lanka Football,” Ramakrishnan wrote in the protest letter, Wednesday (6/12/2023).

Still in his letter, he also spoke with the vice presidents of Sri Lanka Football, namely Ranjith Rodrigo and Manil Fernando, and both of them stated that the committee had the full right to ban or allow journalists during their term of office.

He said the role of journalists in covering sporting events is more than just reporting scores and results. They provide valuable insight into the athletes’ stories, the dynamics of the games, and the impact of the events on society. By limiting journalists in carrying out their duties, we risk losing the diverse perspectives and comprehensive coverage that contribute to the richness of sports narratives.

“Sports journalists must be free from undue influence or interference in their reporting. “Editorial independence is very important to maintain the integrity of journalism,” Ramakrishnan said.

As the President of the Sri Lanka Association of Professional Sports Journalists and having covered many major sporting events such as the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, ICC events, as well as FIFA and AFC events, according to him, Sports journalists, like all journalists, have the right to express opinions and report events without censors, provided they comply with ethical standards and legal restrictions.

Responding to the ban, Evangelisto Gantry dos Santos Meilana as President of Sports Journalists in Timor-Leste (AJORSTIL) deeply regrets the decision taken by the President of the Sri Lanka Football Federation and urges the ban to be revoked.

“Journalists are free to report anywhere, including in arenas. So what was decided by prohibiting journalists from reporting is an act against press freedom, and we are against that,” commented Evangelisto, who is a senior sports journalist in Timor-Leste who has also covered the Asian Games. SEA Games, FIFA, AFC, AFF and various other sporting matches.

As a recommendation, AJORSTIL suggested that the Association of Professional Sports Journalists of Sri Lanka could send a letter of protest to FIFA because the Sri Lanka Football Federation is a member of FIFA.

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