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Gulf Cup 2017: Press operations worked very well despite political shadows

Journalists working at the main Media Center of the 23rd Arabian Gulf Cup at Sheraton Hotel in Kuwait City. (Photo: Jassem Baroon)
by Rayane Moussallem, AIPS Media

KUWAIT CITY, February 8, 2018 - When you look at the successful organization of the 23rd Arabian Gulf Cup, held in Kuwait between December 22nd2017 and January 5th 2018, you would not believe that the country had just ten days to prepare for the tournament. Yes, just ten.

The competition was scheduled to take place in Qatar but was clouded in uncertainty because Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain refused to send their teams to Qatar due to the political crisis. But when FIFA lifted the ban on Kuwait on December 6, Qatar offered its neighbors the opportunity to host the prestigious regional tournament.

And despite the short time they had, Kuwait managed to organize a successful tournament on all levels, and provided the journalists with great facilities.

Media centers - Three media centers were distributed across the venues, the main one at the Sheraton Hotel, and two others at Jaber Al Ahmad International stadium and Al Kuwait Sports Club stadium which facilitated the work of 3450 accredited by media department, including 800 journalists, from over 50 countries representing 36 channels and 211 newspapers.

There was a lot of praise for the Local Organizing Committee and Media Committee, headed by AIPS Asia president Sattam Alsahli, for the great work they have done in a record time.

The shadows - However, there were some political shadows that overwhelmed the atmosphere during the first days of the tournament due to the Qatar-Gulf crisis that the LOC managed to redress quickly.

Refuse - Saudi players refused to attend the press conference of their opening game with Kuwait due to the presence of Qatari channel beIN Sports microphone on the table, while the delegation of Bahrain refused to stay in the same hotel where the Qataris are staying and Qatari journalists were separated from other journalists on the media tribune during their match against Bahrain in the last game of group stage.

The solution - Taha Atwan Taha from the Media Committee of the tournament spoke to AIPS about this issue and how the LOC managed to solve it:

“Politically, Kuwait was always keen to unite the Gulf countries and play the role of the moderator and earn everyone’s respect. The Saudi team players did not attend the press conference in the first day because of beIN Sports microphone on the table, this issue was fixed the next day. LOC decided to ban all the microphones on the table at press conferences and everything went fine after that.”

“We also felt that the journalists avoided this kind of questions that might cause tension but the LOC did not ban them from asking those questions, they were free to ask whatever they want but players and coaches avoided the answer. It happened just once.” Taha explained.

Less pressure - Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar did not make it to the semi-finals after the Green Falcons suffered from a shock defeat to Oman, the eventual champions, in the last game of group stage while Al Annabi’s draw with Bahrain in their last game was not enough for them to go through, which probably lifted the pressure off the organizers’ shoulders for the rest of the tournament.

Surprised - Jaleel Al Aboudi, a journalist at Al Watan Qatari newspaper, told AIPS: “The LOC took this step because of the situation of the game and the uncertainty of the other side. In Qatar, we do not have any problem in sitting with others and we were surprised when we entered the tribune that we had to sit in a place that is not appropriate for journalists and world of media. We hope that we overcome this in the future. The boycott is condemned ethically and professionally because we work in sports which is supposed to unite people. A lot of sports events and occasions united people no matter what were the conflicts between nations but what happened towards beIN sports is unacceptable and unethical. The actions that LOC took were smart and reasonable.”

Good gesture - However, there was a moment during the game that saw the stadium applauding when a Qatari player helped an injured Bahraini player by lifting his leg up. AIPS tried to speak with Bahraini journalists present at the stadium, but they have preferred not to give any comments.

Our position - AIPS president, Gianni Merlo, had a say in the matter: “AIPS does not accept the behavior of some colleagues who follow the politics and not the rules of fair play and independence of our profession. We remind the national associations that we must respect politics, but in the same time politics has to respect our profession and we will never accept the interference of politics. We are here to create bridges towards peace and not division”.

Follow Rayane Moussallem on Twitter @RioMoussallem

There was a moment during the game that saw the stadium applauding when a Qatari player helped an injured Bahraini player by lifting his leg up. (Photo: Ali Alsalman)

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