AIPS Congress: World Cup bids and VAR lead the way on the first day

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By Marie van der Donk, Young Reporter, The Netherlands

Brussels, May 8, 2018 – The first day of the 81st AIPS Congress was dominated by the Morocco and United World Cup bids and Massimo Busacca’s VAR presentation, but provided plenty of other journalism presentations and congress panels.

Over 200 journalists from 100 countries came to Brussels to attend the Congress. The continental sections kicked off proceedings in the morning with meetings to discuss important points on the local agenda.

In the European meeting president of AIPS Europe Charles Camenzuli stressed that journalism must keep up the fight for independence in sports journalism. Radio journalists and photographers have been excluded from press conferences lately, or they are cancelled easily. Camenzuli said: “They try to make it up with sending free pictures from their own photographers, but where is the independence? Where is our job? We need to speak up, or we cannot do our job in ten years anymore.’’

After the continental meetings, AIPS signed a new partnership with APO group. Following the MOU signing, the new Rugby Africa Gold Cup trophy was unveiled. Founder and CEO of APO Group Pompigne-Mognard said: ”The popularity of rugby is exploding all over Africa and rugby is now the fastest growing sport on the continent.”

South Korea’s Gwangju presented its credentials for the 2019 swimming World Championships. Secretary General Dr. Young-Teck Cho envisaged a bright future for sports on the Korean peninsula. The organisation wants to make a statement with the slogan ‘Dive into peace.’

Dr. Young-Teck Cho said: ”We would like to take these championships as a moment to build peace and unity, all inspired through sport.

Gwangju’s General Secretary Dr. Young-Teck Cho presents next year’s swimming world championships at the AIPS Congress in Brussels, Belgium on May 8, 2018. (Photo by AIPS Media)

This year the Special Olympics will celebrate their 50thbirthday. The movement is keen on more media coverage. Head of Communications, Europe Eurasia, Fiona Hynes, said: ”We are very much aware that we are not top of the agenda.”

At lunch United 2026 – the United States with partners Mexico and Canada – and Morocco 2026 presented their visions to host the 2026 World Cup. The FIFA Congress will vote on the host on June 13th in Moscow. US Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro said: “11 billion dollars, a profit of this magnitude is unprecedented in any single-sport event held in history.”

Football dominated the day. FIFA’s Director of Refereeing Massimo Busacca explained the finer details of VAR, the new video system that will be used at this summer’s finals in Russia.

Busacca let fly: “VAR will be a positive surprise at the World Cup”

He stressed the relevance and importance of VAR. Busacca said: “The real scandal is not there anymore. In all four competitions the implementation of VAR did not permitted a scandal. If you do not have the VAR, you do not have the possibility to correct a clear mistake.”

FIFA’s Director of Refereeing Massimo Busacca delivered a keynote address about VAR at the AIPS Congress in Brussels, Belgium on May 8, 2018. (Photo by AIPS Media)

The stage was now set for the panel ‘Sports Journalism: how to stay relevant in the digital age.’ Editor-in-Chief Juan Ignacio Fallardo, Digital Editor-in-Chief Jean-Baptiste Renet and AIPS President Gianni Merlo were the panelists.

Jean-Baptiste Renet said: “We live in difficult times for the written press, but it also has some advantages for us. We need people to be able to pay for journalism, but we virtually know what people read on our website every second.”

Statistics show that the younger generation is visiting videos way more often that written articles or pictures.

Merlo said: “We do not go overnight to a written site to a site in full-video. Sometimes you need to make a mistake, learn from that make your website better.’’

Gallardo added: “Society needs us, needs the media. If written press does not survive, society will have a problem. Let’s work together to survive.” Juan Ignacio Gallardo says at the end of the panel.

AIPS president Gianni Merlo delivered the concluding remarks on the first day, with a message of unity. Merlo said: “Now it is time to do where it is about: the congress itself. We are part of an organisation which makes a family of the basics of sports journalism.’’

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