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Did Čeferin, With His Far-Reaching Power, Deny Accreditation To A Long-Time Sports Journalist?

On Tuesday, we witnessed a much-anticipated preparatory football match between the Slovenian and Portuguese national teams, made all the more interesting by the presence of star player Cristiano Ronaldo in Ljubljana’s Stožice stadium. For unknown reasons, the Football Association of Slovenia (NZS) seemed to have decided not to grant accreditation to all sports journalists to cover the match, which, to Slovenia’s delight, ended with a victory for the Slovenian heroes.

“Since 2004, I have been present at 89 of the 90 home matches of the Slovenian national team. Today, when those who don’t even watch football on TV will be there, I am left without accreditation. The disciplining of critical journalists, which the Football Association of Slovenia has now taken a few steps further…”, wrote Sportklub Slovenia sports journalist Rok Viškovič on social network X on Tuesday, to express his outrage.

In light of the above comment, which was published on social network X, many people are wondering how such a thing is possible. Perhaps they decided to take this step because a few days ago, the journalist retweeted a viral video that was made after the UEFA Super Cup final last year, which does not show UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin and other officials in the best light. Namely, the video shows the situation that occurred during the medal awarding ceremony, where nobody pays any attention to a blind girl until Jack Grealish, a player from the English football club Manchester City, walks in front of her and takes time for a short conversation with her, which must have made the girl extremely happy. Grealish’s action impressed many, as he showed a great deal of empathy and humanity by chatting with the girl.

Even if the reason for not obtaining accreditation is not the video mentioned above, the matter is worrying. Especially if the reason for such a decision is possibly Viškovič’s critical reporting style, which at one point was not to the Football Association’s liking. In that case, we would be proving in practice that, in 2024, we have still failed to internalise democratic values and freedom of speech.

The article that was critical of the Football Association eventually disappeared

Such problems are unlikely to be faced by the journalists of 24ur and POP TV, who are well known to be quite close to Čeferin as well as to the Football Association of Slovenia. It seems that some of them know how they are supposed to report on football matters, and when something is not to the liking of the football officials, the matter is simply deleted or removed.

Anyone who noticed an article on the aforementioned web portal yesterday, criticising the organisation of the match even before the football spectacle itself, was probably quite surprised today, when the article was nowhere to be found. It is therefore logical to conclude that the deletion was the result of pressure from someone who was angered by the publicity about the imperfect organisation.

Let us hope that such a development will not become a permanent practice in the future, because democracy simply cannot be imagined without freedom of speech.

A. H.

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