Page last updated at 16:00 GMT, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Fifa World Cup reporting rule sparks South Africa row

Fifa president Sepp Blatter in South Africa, 15 November
Media interest in the World Cup is already at fever pitch in South Africa

Journalists in South Africa have accused football's governing body Fifa of imposing restrictive rules on reporting next year's World Cup.

The reporters say Fifa's conditions mean their accreditation could be withdrawn if they write an article criticising the organisation.

They say Fifa has refused repeated attempts to clarify the rule.

But Fifa said its terms had been "completely misunderstood" and they would not impinge on editorial freedom.

Raymond Louw, who speaks for a forum of South African editors known as Sanef, told the BBC there were unanswered questions.

"Any behaviour harmful to the image of Fifa or the local organising committee would result in the accreditation being withdrawn," he said.

"Our complaint about that is, what do they mean by 'behaviour'?

"Does it include for instance, critical commentary in the newspaper or media about the organising by the local committee, or by Fifa?"

He said journalists had been trying to get Fifa to clarify the rules for two years, but had not been able to hold a single meeting with a representative from the organisation.

Fifa said in a statement the terms and conditions "had nothing to do with the editorial reporting on the Fifa World Cup".

The statement pointed out that accreditation rules had been accepted by another journalist body, the World Association of Newspapers.

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