The Confederation of African Football (CAF) have vowed to crack down on poor behaviour from journalists working at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
After consultations with the local police in the Cote d’Ivoire, the governing body has now taken the drastic step of issuing new guidelines and restricting media access at the tournament, which began last month and will run until February 11.
The on-field drama at the prestigious competition has been marred somewhat by actions from reporters deemed unprofessional, with accredited individuals accused of aiming abuse at players, dancing near-naked and fighting with each other.
“There was someone dancing naked in the media tribune’, a CAF media official told journalists in Abidjan while explaining the new rules. ‘We cannot have that.’
CAF have also issued a wider statement and shed light on the steps taken to clamp down on the ‘unbecoming behaviour’ of a number of reporters at stadiums.
The statement read: ‘CAF has noted the escalating unbecoming and unprofessional behaviour of “media practitioners” in working spaces at the Africa Cup of Nations.
‘CAF met with the Local Organising Committee and police to discuss the situation and find workable solutions.
‘While we understand that we are all football fans and are passionate about our national teams, journalists are expected to observe professional standards.’
The organisation has threatened to expel and remove the accreditation of any media member involved in ‘wild celebrations and abuses (of) colleagues’.
They have also rolled out a strict zero-tolerance approach to fighting among reporters.
‘Any media practitioner who uses vulgar (language) in media areas either against coaches, players or his/her peers will have the accreditation withdrawn,’ CAF added.
Live streaming in the mixed zone, an area designated for reporters to interview players post-match, has been banned, as have drones and any unauthorised filming.
In the wake of Ghana’s 2-2 draw with Mozambique, accredited journalists shouted abuse at players in the mixed zone and heckled former head coach Chris Hughton.
Hughton, who managed Newcastle and Brighton in the Premier League, had also been accosted by a supporter at the team hotel earlier in the competition.
According to ESPN, the fixtures between Senegal and Guinea and Morocco and South Africa saw jostling and arguments between media packs.
More recently, one unnamed accredited Ivorian reporter was caught on camera dancing with his shirt off in the press box after his nation’s victory over Senegal.
‘Between pitched battles, attacks, invectives, it is a distressing spectacle that certain colleagues have been delivering to the world since the start of AFCON,’ the International Sports Press Association said in a statement.
‘The media workspaces (gallery, mixed zone, conference room) have been transformed into a boxing ring, or even simply transformed into a dancefloor or performance zone hosted by media badge holders.’ — Daily Mail.