Sports journalists "must fight against manipulation, defend right of expression"

Mr Gianni Merlo, President of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) has called for members of the world's peak professional sports media body to join in the fight against manipulation and to defend their right of expression. Merlo has also urged the media to find innovative ways to harness and better exploit the use of new technologies in order to invest in culture.

In a statement to mark International Sports Journalists' Day, Mr Merlo reminded his colleagues that their association had been established 87 years ago (at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games) "because some enlightened colleagues saw the need to unite to defend the principles of the sports press that at the time, still did not have a true identity."

"It is our duty to continue the work that they started, especially now that our profession is undergoing a real revolution. The advent of the Internet will not mean more freedom unless we find the way to use this new communication tool correctly. We need to invest in culture to better exploit the opportunities the new technologies allow us.

"We must fight against manipulation and defend our right of expression, because our freedom of thought and criticism can help sport to grow and, with it, the young people of the world to develop.

"Ours is a social commitment. At the moment, our colleagues in Nepal have been targeted by the authorities and it is our duty to defend their independence. In other countries, working conditions are worsening and we are the ones who must intervene to stem dangerous interference in the freedom of expression.

"In autumn, we’ll try to bring the colleagues of Israel and Palestine closer, because channels of dialogue have to be re-opened. We talk the same language in sport and so we can open up a chink.

"Our commitment must be total and unitary."