By Dana Liebelson – An association of African reporters has just released a report probing corruption among professional African soccer leagues. The aim of the report is to finish the investigation of a Cameroonian journalist who was assaulted after reporting on a soccer president’s financial affairs. According to the organization, the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR), the report aims to show, “you can stop a journalist, but you cannot kill the story.”
The report, “Killing Soccer in Africa” is the first African investigation attached to the Global Investigative Journalism Network to be undertaken on behalf of an injured reporter. The report focuses on eight countries, and concludes that African soccer cannot be meaningfully competitive until administrators are found accountable for poor management.
In Cameroon, for example, Parliament appropriated about US$24.1 million for the renovation of its soccer stadiums — and has nothing to show for it. In the Ivory Coast, soccer officials routinely make money on fraudulent ticket sales and building contracts that never materialize. Even in Nigeria, where talented soccer players are known for using fame to improve their communities, football clubs are able to access only 10 percent of the US$7 million donated yearly by sponsors.
In 2008, after the attack on the Cameroonian reporter Phillippe Boney, press freedom advocacy group the Committee to Protect Journalists called on authorities to “undertake a thorough investigation and hold those responsible to account under the law.”
By finishing Boney’s work, FAIR has proven that as long as there is corruption among the African soccer leagues, there will be reporters willing to put their lives at risk to expose it.