World’s press urge FIFA to guarantee journalist safety after Danish reporter is told to stop filming

The World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) have condemned Qatari authorities after Danish television correspondent Rasmus Tantholdt was ordered to stop filming during a live broadcast.

The TV2 journalist was in the middle of a piece to camera when members of the Qatari security staff interrupted the broadcast and threatened to break the camera. 

The officials accused the news crew of not having the correct permission to film in public. Tantholdt presented his accreditation to the security staff during the live broadcast.

A statement from the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the local organisers of the tournament, accepted the crew did have the correct permits to film and that an apology was issued.

"Tournament organisers are aware of an incident where a Danish broadcast crew were mistakenly interrupted during a live broadcast in one of Qatar's tourist destinations," the statement read.

"Upon inspection of the crew's valid tournament accreditation and filming permit, an apology was made to the broadcaster by on-site security before the crew resumed their activity.

"Tournament organisers have since spoken to the journalist and issued an advisory to all entities to respect the filming permits in place for the tournament."

WAN-IFRA's Press Freedom Executive Director, Andrew Heslop, believes the incident underlines Qatar's efforts to restrict coverage and control journalists.

In a statement, he said: "We are alarmed but sadly not at all surprised by this show of aggression towards a news crew covering the lead up to the World Cup.

"Media freedom is anathema to Qatari authorities and this attempt to shut down a live broadcast fits entirely with their efforts thus-far to control and shape the narrative around this tournament.

"Restricting coverage and controlling journalists has been top priority for Qatar to avoid scrutiny and accountability for the appalling situation regarding migrant workers as well as the country's wider human rights record.

"In an overzealous attempt to impose their highly restrictive media policy, the Qatari authorities have shown their hand and FIFA must act to ensure this is not repeated."

He later added: "We call on FIFA to ensure a safe and respectful working environment for the media professionals who will be in Qatar. There is no place for intimidation or threats of violence against journalists; FIFA needs to communicate this to the Qatari authorities loud and clear."

The World Cup gets underway on Sunday with hosts Qatar taking on Ecuador.

READ MORE: Which star players won’t be at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar?

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