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FIFA to help train African journalists

Text by Emmanuel VERSACE

Latest update : 2008-12-11

Can football be a vehicle for democracy in Africa? That’s what FIFA apparently believes: the world governing body for football, along with the AFP Foundation, will train African journalists covering the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

In South Africa, host of the 2010 World Cup, 300 reporters from 53 African nations are set to participate in journalism training courses launched by FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) and organised by the AFP Foundation to better equip them to cover the historic event.

Between four to six journalists with three to four years experience will be selected from each country by their respective national federations. By the end of the year, FIFA’s president, Joseph Blatter, is expected to announce the final list of the selected candidates.

Broadcast Academy

“It’s the first time the AFP Foundation has organised training courses specially designed to cover sports,” says Robert Holloway, director of the AFP Foundation, inaugurated in July 2007 by Agence France-Presse.

The non-profit foundation will organise two training courses per week in eight big African countries for correspondents and photojournalists working in French, Arabic, English and Portuguese.

“These courses will enable them to improve their skills and will also familiarise them with the latest technological advances in the field. 15% of the course will be dedicated to journalism ethics. This is in keeping with the requirements of the European Development Fund, which co-finances the project,” explains Holloway.

For audiovisual media, FIFA and the African Union of Broadcasters launched a Broadcast Academy in Cotonou, Benin, in October. The model is similar, but the scale is far larger. Nearly 3,000 television and radio journalists will be invited to participate in weekly seminars.

A key role for future generations

Norbert Ouendji is a Cameroonian reporter and journalism consultant. A former associate editor at the Le Messager, the leading Cameroonian daily, Ouendji is at the heart of Médiafrères, a project aimed at establishing an international network to support media initiatives in developing countries. The FIFA initiative is important, says Ouendji, because there’s a need to get journalists ready in the lead-up to the 2010 World Cup.

"Those who benefit from it have a key role to play in transmitting the lessons they’ve learned to their colleagues and especially to future generations,” says Ouendi. “But the precarious conditions under which many African journalists pursue their careers – lack of employment contracts, poor future prospects and late salary payments – are not solely the result of a lack of economic means. It’s not enough to subsidise newspapers: it’s necessary to teach publishers not to confuse company assets and funds with those of their families and cronies,” concludes the Cameroonian journalist.

Date created : 2008-12-11