Sports journalism at a crossroads: culture to combat violence

Gianni Merlo, AIPS President

LAUSANNE, December 31, 2018 – For us, 2018 ends deeply affected by what happened near San Siro stadium in Milan on December 28, when, before the Serie A match between Inter and Napoli, Inter ultras attacked a convoy of Napoli fans and one person, one of the attackers, was run over and killed by a passing SUV. The fan violence had been planned, as is emerging from the investigation, not by a violent young man, perhaps venting his rage from being marginalized, but by a university graduate. This is a sign that a qualitative leap has taken place in the world of the micro-crime of football ultras. Organized violence is becoming increasingly sophisticated and also linked to the politics of the moment. Clubs in many cases are forced to suffer, without taking serious action against their own violent fans, who are the youth born from wrong policies of the clubs’ own past. The visceral, almost romantic sports fan of the past has turned into a shiny and entrepreneurial monster.
THE PHENOMENON This type of violence is not seen only in Italy, but unfortunately it is widespread in the world. There is no country that is immune to it. For this reason, the need for sports journalism to distance itself from the violent and to engage in a cultural battle to cure this cancer, which endangers our profession, is ever more pressing. This phenomenon should not be underestimated. Violence is also linked to match-fixing, and this should not be forgotten. If we are to defend civility, our place of work and that of future generations, we must analyze every situation well.

For now, federations and clubs are doing too little, and too late, because they are subject to internal blackmail of all kinds. Therefore we need to stand firmly alongside those who believe in the principles of a healthy society. I know, it is not an easy battle, but it is a necessary and urgent one.


THE POSITIVES At AIPS, our 2018 was positive. Many of our national associations have worked very well in the defense of our profession, they have understood that it is necessary to react and not just passively suffer the tsunami of social media, which are increasingly in the hands of those who want to manipulate reality and minds. We must learn to use social media in the most correct way,  to follow the logic of quality by studying more.


AIPS SPORT MEDIA AWARDS On January 21st in Lausanne we will celebrate the inaugural awards ceremony of the AIPS Sport Media Awards. It will be a very important evening for our future, because a great investment has been made in culture and we already see its positive results. The collaboration with the QSPC, the Qatar Sports Press Committee, has allowed us to create a cultural project of the highest level and the success of participation in these awards – a total of 1273 submissions, shows that the environment needed for an initiative like this exists. Now we will have to give more importance to our initiatives, because our goal is to improve the working conditions and  the space for independence of all our colleagues. The independence of our profession is a guarantee of progress. We must never resign ourselves, but react positively. The fight against corruption and violence is a cultural struggle which we must commit ourselves to every day

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