AIPS President Gianni Merlo delivering his welcome speech at the AIPS Sport Media Awards 2019 ceremony in Budapest, February 3, 2020. Photo by Carlo Pozzoni/Nordcapstudio
AIPS President Gianni Merlo delivering his welcome speech at the AIPS Sport Media Awards 2019 ceremony in Budapest, February 3, 2020. Photo by Carlo Pozzoni/Nordcapstudio

2021 will be the year of Hope. The Hope that a vaccine will help us wake up from the nightmare that we have been experiencing since last February. The Hope that the world will work together to find new solutions to go back to the normal life. The Hope that the word lockdown will be forgotten. The Hope of rebuilding the credibility of our profession, because fake news is our Coronavirus. The Hope of returning to work and living the sport life again…

We experienced the strangest and most complicated summer in the history of mankind – all involved in the nightmare of the Coronavirus, or rather Covid-19. Paradoxically, every country experienced the same problem and suffered the same consequences. Everyone talked about the Spanish flu, the disease that claimed millions of victims worldwide, but this time the drama was shared more – experienced by more lives.

Our profession has also been hurt because sport is still undergoing a sort of lockdown. Empty stadiums and ban on journalists are the situations these days. Life in many countries is not back to normal, especially sport, because crowds still need to be avoided. We are experiencing the second and third wave of the deadly virus.

Last summer and in the fall, football clubs and even some sports organizations denied the press access to sports facilities, even if there would be enough space to avoid risky contacts. It almost seems like they are doing a dress rehearsal to eliminate our critical presence altogether. Of course, this is just my doubt for now and I really hope I’m wrong, but the facts have led me to this bitter consideration.

Many colleagues have lost their jobs, as newspapers have entered an even deeper crisis and freelancers have fallen into despair. It will not be easy to get out of it, but this is the moment we have to react and revitalize our profession by studying new solutions to also counter the wave of fake news, which has been artfully created to discredit our work. This is why it is now essential to defend our principles, which are also the basis of every civil society. Sport needs healthy and independent journalism to fight corruption, which is a more difficult Coronavirus to stop.

Investigative sources say that some criminal organizations are already looking to acquire ownership of teams, clubs, image of champions so that they can manipulate results and make huge profits with betting. We must avoid it, because a “fake” sport would experience a collapse that would make millions of employees lose their jobs – another social tsunami. We too are out to defend our profession, our occupation and our principles.

AIPS

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