When, in November 2009, a journalist in Cameroon was severely beaten after he started probing the financial affairs of (Cameroonian) Confederation of African Soccer President Issa Hayatou, FAIR decided to carry out a Transnational Investigation into the administration of soccer in Africa. In total eight African countries, including five of the six countries that participated in the 2010 World Cup, were covered. Media houses in all eight countries -ranging from the Zimbabwean Financial Gazette to the Cameroonian Weekly Post, the Ugandan Monitor and the South African City Press- published the story. You will see the resulting dossier when you click the link below.
Because of the teamwork in aid of a colleague who was prevented from pursuing his story , ‘Killing soccer in Africa’ has become the first Arizona project to take place on the African continent. The label ‘Arizona project’ is derived from an investigation that took place in that US state in 1976. The investigation, -into a network of criminals-, got reporter Don Bolles killed. But the criminals who had tried to kill the investigation by assassinating the journalist, achieved the opposite of what they had intended. The call by FAIR’s US sister organization, Investigative Reporters and Editors, to its members to all descend on Arizona and finish the story, was answered. Thirty-eight reporters, working for over twenty media houses followed the story, finished it, and published. Thus, the impact of the original investigation, that Bolles killers had wanted to silence, increased tremendously. Since then, the title ‘Arizona project’ is given to efforts by a team of journalists finishing a story that a lone journalist has been stopped, by force, from pursuing.
The point that you can stop a journalist, but you cannot kill the story has, in 2010, been made in by FAIR. Its conclusions are based on hard facts and cannot be dismissed: African soccer will not prosper until its administrators are reigned in and held accountable for their high-living, wasteful and destructive management style. Maybe most importantly, this investigation shows that African soccer administrators are not the only culprits. The international soccer body FIFA is shown to protect and even promote bad African soccer managers.
The report has so far been published by media in all the eight African countries where individual journalists participated in FAIR’s team. It has been reviewed by radio and online media internationally and FAIR hopes that the release of the entire dossier will incur even more international publicity. This would after all be in line with the motto: you can stop a journalist, but you can’t kill the story.
Click here for the PDF file.