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Italy4 November 2005

Genoa football scandal threatens safety of journalists

Reporters Without Borders today condemned threats made to the Italian media since it revealed corruption in the Genoa football club in June this year and called on the government to protect journalists and ensure press freedom.

Six journalists have been threatened so far, the offices of two newspapers have been besieged by team supporters (“tifosi”) and the editor of one is being prosecuted. “These reactions are absurd,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “Journalists have simply done their job by exposing illegal practices in sport.”

A reporter of the national daily Repubblica received telephoned death threats at his office and home on 28 October. The journalist, who wants to remain anonymous for his own protection, had reported the result of the corruption enquiry. He mentioned the violent and provocative behaviour of the tifosi but also criticised financial laxness by the club’s managers.

Lanfranco Vaccari, managing editor of the daily Il Secolo XIX, and one of the paper’s journalists, Marco Menduni, were prosecuted on 27 October for revealing that an enquiry had started into apparently fixed national championship matches last season and reporting confidential details of the enquiry. Vaccari was given a police escort in July for two months after receiving threats. He had simply expressed his opinion on the scandal.

The paper’s offices were besieged on 29 July by several hundred tifosi, who threw stones and bottles at the building and threatened police trying to protect it. The paper was then guarded for a week by police. The local offices of Repubblica were similarly attacked and small rockets were fired by the protesters. Hounding of journalists began in mid-June after Repubblica began reporting the corruption.

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