The Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL) has declared that it will boycott the grand finals of the National County Sports Meet if stringent and practical measures are not put into place to help provide maximum security for its members at the Media Tribune created for journalists to carry out their reportorial duties.
The latest statement by SWAL comes in the wake of constant attacks on its members by spectators at the Media Tribune at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex while providing media coverage for the tournament.
According to the President of SWAL, Kolubah Zayzay, the repeated attacks and violent behavior by spectators on its members is unacceptable and ridiculous and therefore sends a negative image to the outside world.
SWAL frowned at the organizers of the National County Sports Meet, the Ministry of Youth and Sports and Internal Affairs, for its failure to provide assigned security at the Media Tribute since the quarter final stage of the competition, thus leading to the repeated attacks and disruptions of its members’ professional work.
SWAL said on three separate occasions on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 during the semifinal game between Grand Bassa and Nimba Counties, spectators assaulted, insulted and attacked sports reporters at the Media Tribune while carrying out their professional duties.
The Media Tribune is directly positioned below the VIP box but it was on Wednesday January 12, 2022 overcrowded by spectators even though it was meant exclusively for journalists to be positioned to do their professional work. Unfortunately, spectators engulfed the area chanting slogans, cheering as well as disrupting the work of media professionals, something that led to series of confusion right in front of the Chief Patron of Sports, President George Weah and immediately coerced him along with his entourage to flee the stadium. The situation led to the damage of three camera tripods of three reporters, for which something SWAL condemns in the strongest term and called for an immediate replacement of those media gadgets.
It can be recalled that the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville was banned by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for the failure to have some basic stadium requirements and facilities including the Media Tribune.
Following the ban, the Government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports made some interventions to correct the wrongs, something that brought about the introduction of the Media Tribune.
However, since the introduction of the Media Tribune exclusively for journalists to be posted to do their professional work, it has been abused and misused by spectators on numerous occasions without an intervention from the relevant authorities.
Meanwhile, the leadership of SWAL has so far regretted the repeated attacks on its members and appealed to them to remain calm as they are engaging the appropriate authorities to ensure that the proper and right things are done.
SWAL President Zayzay at the same time assured affected members that those damaged media gadgets will be replaced in the soonest possible time.