Open letter to the Olympic Journalists Association

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Ich habe seit Ewigkeiten vor, dieses Blog auch auf Englisch zu führen, weil ich denke, dass es vergleichbare Angebote, die nicht von Sponsoren der so genannten Olympischen Bewegung oder gar von Sportfunktionären finanziert werden, kaum gibt. Nun beginne ich damit. Die Geschichte, die ich gestern erlebt habe, ist Anlass genug: Denn ich habe ja mit Jean-Marie Weber einen neuen Journalisten-Kollegen in der Olympic Journalists Association (OJA). Ab heute wird es regelmäßig englische und deutsche Beiträge in diesem Blog geben. Ich denke, das ist auf Dauer spannender und erweitert unseren Horizont.

In der Causa Weber habe ich soeben diesen offenen Brief an alle Mitglieder der OJA und einige andere interessierte Kollegen, Funktionäre und das IOC Press Office gesendet. Let’s talk about it. Have your say!

Von: Jens Weinreich
Gesendet: Sonntag, 14. Juni 2009 13:30
Betreff: open letter to members of the Olympic Journalists Association

Dear colleagues,

I have had a shock. My head is spinning. My legs are weak, my brain spins. I grip the edge of my desk and croak for a glass of water.

Coming back from Coventry, England, where I attended the stimulating Play the Game conference I was greeted by the new directory of the Olympic Journalists Association (OJA). I do thank Alain Lunzenfichter, Steve Wilson and Adrian Warner, Wakako Yuki, Karolos Grohmann and Pirate Irwin for their honorary work in the OJA Executive Committee.

But something in it leaves me trembling.

In the new directory I found my name alongside a new „associate member“ of the OJA. His name? Jean-Marie Weber. In a moment, I’ll tell you more about Mr Weber.

But first, I am curious to know, who has elected Jean-Marie Weber? He has never been a journalist. But he does have one special role in the Olympic movement.

He paid the bribes. Huge bribes. Bribes for maybe 30 years to high ranking sports officials. Is this now a qualification for membership of the Olympic Journalists Association?

I can’t afford this membership fee. My children must be fed first.

Apparently he was elected in 2009. The Constitution of OJA says an „associate member“ can be nominated by the Executive Committee. The definition of an „associate member“ like Jean-Marie Weber is the following:

„This will be offered to any individual, newspaper, federation, television network, sponsor, association, promoter etc. … whom the Committee considers has made a contribution to the Association or whose professional duties impact on Olympics.“

Oh yes! Mr Weber’s activities have impacted on Olympic sport big time. Massively. He’s the man who bought sport with big bags of banknotes.

How about 138 million CHF in bribes? Or financing dreary publications like „sport intern“ since the rest of us were babies?

By the way: It was interesting to read in the „Constitution Status“ that there should be an annual general meeting. I was never invited to any. I have no idea if a meeting took place ever.

Just one last remark: This is not about criticizing the honorary work of other journalists. I do appreciate their work, especially if the purpose is to organize better working conditions for journalists in the Olympic circuit.

But: I don’t think adopting people who are working on the other side, the Dark Side, who some of us watched in a Zug court last year refuse to answer direct questions from the magistrates about who got the kickbacks?

I would very much like to get information from our Committee. Over to you guys.

Ironically my presentation at Play the Game last Wednesday in Coventry was about the biggest bribery scandal in the Olympic history. My topic was:

„The ISL/ISMM bribery system: 138 million CHF for high-ranking officials in the Olympic world“

For those of you who are not familiar with the ISL-bribery system: I will publish an extended version of my presentation on my sport-political blog tomorrow. Just one important point: The man who has paid 138 million CHF (according to judges, to defendants and lawyers in the ISL court case in Zug/Switzerland; see: court documentation) was the former ISL executive Jean-Marie Weber.

Is he really one of us? How on earth was he given membership?

I do think this is important so I am sending this email to every „full member“ of OJA, to the IOC Press Office, the head of the IOC Press Commission and a few people who have recently discussed measures against corruption in sport with me in Coventry at the Play the Game conference: journalists, sport officials like Dick Pound, scientists and NGO-officials from 31 countries. I will also publish the letter on my sport-political blog.

Kind regards,

Jens Weinreich

indykiste #1

Could it be, that you `re a little bit furious?

Jens Weinreich #2

Not at all. You’ve got me wrong. Du hast mich noch nie wütend erlebt.

indykiste #3

Mal etwas anderes, was mich interessiert. Warum schaffen es so honorige Teilnehmer von “ Play the Game“ nicht, diese meines Erachtens wichtige Veranstaltung in die „Leitmedien“ von Presse, Funk und Fernsehen zu bringen? Wo gibt es Widerstand, bzw. Ablehnung? Wer blockiert etwaige Versuche?

JW #4

Ich würde die Fragen anders herum stellen: Warum interessieren sich so genannte Leitmedien nicht für Play the Game? In Deutschland ganz besonders (nicht). Warum sind sie, die doch sonst Korrespondenten zu fast jedem x-beliebigen aber angeblich wichtigen Fußballspiel schicken, jemanden zu Play the Game zu entsenden? Bring mich nicht in die Verlegenheit, aufzuzählen, wie wenige deutsche Journalisten ich 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 und 2009 bei Play the Game gesichtet habe.

Dagegen: David Walsh war immerhin zweimal da. Andrew Jennings (natürlich) immer. Declan Hill fast immer.

Nochmal: Die Fragen müssten eher an jene gehen, die fehlen.

Zum Glück ist der Begriff/die Institution Leitmedium längst aufgeweicht. So etwas gibt es ja nicht wirklich mehr – für mich jedenfalls nicht. Die Außenwirkung von Play the Game würde ich nicht unterschätzen, in der Branche (sportpolitisch) wird das schon beachtet. Das IOC schaut genau hin. Die Fifa hat sogar Spione geschickt.

Überschätzen ist natürlich auch unangebracht.

indykiste #5

ok, dann stelle ich Dir doch mal die Frage: Warum interessiert es Deine Kollegen nicht, wenn eine solche Konferenz stattfindet- sind wir dann wieder bei dem Grund der Gründung des Sportnetzwerks?
Allerdings, warum aber berichten ein Kistner, Burkert,Hahn, Blaschke, Thevessen usw. nicht? Oder wird es nicht durch die Redaktionen zugelassen?

Jens Weinreich #6

indykiste, bring mich doch bitte nicht in Verlegenheit. Naturgemäß sind derlei Fragen an die entsprechenden Redaktionen und Personen zu stellen.

indykiste #7

Ach, Du kennst diese also nicht soooo gut? (Feigling-lol)

Christoph #8

Freue mich schon auf die Antworten der OJA-Mitglieder. Die dürfen wir doch sicher auch hier lesen, oder?

Zum Thema schweigende (Leit-)medien: Es gab ja offensichtlich auch nicht das Bedürfnis, Weinreich-Texte abzudrucken (Lobenswerte Ausnahme ist natürlich der Deutschlandfunk). Ein Stück in der „Berliner Zeitung“ ist nicht gerade viel.

Liegt es vielleicht daran, dass Sie nicht nur Beobachter, sondern auch Vortragender in Coventry waren? Ich kann mir nicht vorstellen, dass Sie der „Süddeutschen“, der „Frankfurter Rundschau“ oder „Spiegel Online“ das Thema nicht vorgeschlagen haben … Wie waren denn die Reaktionen in den Redaktionen?

Bob Munro #9

After spending another exciting and inspiring week at the PlaytheGame conference in Coventry with some of the most courageous journalists, athletes and officials in sport and especially after you made such a well documented and devastating expose on the ISL scandal with Jean-Marie Weber as its webmaster, your shock and indignation is certainly understandable.

How can this travesty be remedied? What if a significant number of members wrote to the OJA giving them a deadline to delete either Weber’s name OR their names from the OJA list (with a copy to you so you can track and report on progress on your website).

You should thank the OJA for at least one benefit … for helping keep your adrenalin and ink flowing without using any banned substances …

Andrew Jennings #10

I hope the mass membership of the OJA is going to scream ear-splittingly at this disgraceful situation. Jean-Marie Weber, the biggest bribe-payer in the history of sport is admitted to their ranks? You guys must do a forensic analysis to discover who approved this membership application. Then evict the people responsible. If you don’t – your credibility is zero. And if Weber is still a member at the end of this month of June 2009 . . . start looking for new jobs.

The duty of reporters is to report on the dirty activities of crooks like Weber. What we see here is the reporters giving shelter and comfort to a man who has spent his long working life corrupting our sports organisations. Are there lessons to be drawn from this affair? Can we trust our reporters?
Sorrowfully,

Andrew Jennings

ha #11

My first question after reading this would be: Did Weber bribe journalists in this organisation? Or was it unnecessary?

andreas #12

Well, fancy that. Didn’t you promise in your previous entries, you will write more about Jean-Marie? There should be quite an amount of material in the next future.

In my humble opinion, it isn’t very difficult to imagine, how and why he got into this. Now, IOC and FIFA don’t need to explain, why Jean-Marie is attending all of their conferences. He’s a journalist now and will not have any issues. And I doubt, he will ever be close to the persona non grata status, others had and have.

@ha: I doubt it. I think this is family business. Could be a matter of a few phone calls and the deal was settled. As Jens wrote earlier, the Association doesn’t seem to be the most active one. I think they had the idea that nobody would find out. But somehow they missed, that Jean-Marie does not have very much luck with his last name.

@AndrewJennings: Do you really think, the majority of the remaining 100ish so-called-journalists will scream? After everything I read during the last months (in a lot of archives thanks to the web), there doesn’t seem to be very much noise because of such things. How many of your colleagues screamed loudly when Fifa banned you? What was the reaction of the german journalist associations when Jens had his dispute with Herr Zwanziger over here? How intense are the articles about Mr Warner and what he did to the football players, there’s so much more as you will know better than me.

I’ll be happy, if I’m wrong, but I think there will be a few articles, a few lame explanations and then silence. Maybe, in the end there will be someone – maybe a secretary of the OJA or similar – answering, telling the world that they even have invited Jean-Marie. Because he can help the Association with his knowledge and contacts inside the sports family/organisation.

I hope for the very best and would be the very first to confirm my mistake. But I won’t bet anything a cent on the fellow journalists of the OJA. And not on the average blogosphere either. Jean-Marie’s case is – even with his incredibly poor history – too far away from being important to ordinary newspapers and blog-writers.

@Andrew again: Aren’t you now in the best position. You can bring Jean-Marie up and discuss with your fellows at the FIFA ethic commission ( http://jensweinreich.de/?p=3030 ) ;)

@Jens: A very good idea to include your international world into this blog. Hope, it will be worth it.

Herbert #13

I´m really innocent, i.e. I´ve got no idea of Jean-Marie Weber and his doings.
But as ordinary media consumer, especially when it relates to sports, I admit my astonishment on practices assumed and discribed.
Thus the main question comes up, if this manoeuvre is first of all aiming at neutralizing the endeavours of journalists as Andrew Jennings and Jens Weinreich against the bribery system in sports, even by methods beyond legality.
In my understanding there could be one approach towards solution. Again and again to question his presence and to monitor his doings. Let´s hope, there won´t be sufficient collegues of contrary opinions.
As for my part I´ll observe the issue.

Pecas #14

Some primary forensic analysis, as Andrew Jennings has suggested, might possibly be done just by looking at Jean-Marie Weber’s face to the result that „Who’s got the Peso – has got the say-so“.
Suspiciously, appearing in that list right next to Jens Weinreich, if you’d counted the shared letters in the two person’s names, you’d get a hiding, if not a whitewashing, of the bagman’s by 88.88 percent.
As Dan Hicks put it: Better by hook, better than crook.
Get him out o‘ there before it’s too late.

Henk Stouwdam #15

You’re right, Jean-Marie Weber doesn’t belong to the OJA.

I think he must be dropped from membership and I wil support any action to achieve that goal.

Jens Weinreich #16

Henk Stouwdam is the Olympic writer of NRC Handelsblad, Netherlands.

Herbert Fischer-Solms #17

Hi Jens,

as an member of the Olympic Journalists Association I would like to repeat right here, what I have already written in my return-e mail :

Thank you for the information and for making public this unbelievable fact.

First I thought you would be kidding, but obviously it’s not a joke. Will be interesting to get to know how this was made to happen. I guess good old Juan Antonio was Jean-Marie’s attestor, once again.

Is this the IOC-attribution to the anyversary 10 years ioc-bribe-scandal ?

Herbert Fischer-Solms,
Deutschlandfunk

Jens Weinreich #18

Auch mal hübsch: Ein Teil des Briefes in Französisch, veröffentlicht auf der höchst interessanten Website backchich:

Weber, une recrue de choix pour l’association des journalistes olympiques

L’arrivée de Jean-Marie Weber, le trésorier généreux de l’ISL – leader mondial du marketing sportif – à l’Association des journalistes olympiques ne plaît pas à tous ses membres. Qui se renvoient la balle dans les médias.

L’Association des journalistes olympiques, (ou l’Association olympique des journalistes, c’est selon), présidée par Alain Luzenfichter, par ailleurs rédacteur en chef adjoint de L’Equipe, et qui compte quelques plumes mondiales de gros calibre concernées par le mouvement olympique et l’éthique sportive, a recruté en 2009 une figure un brin controversée : Jean-Marie Weber, le fameux « trésorier-payeur-général » d’ISL, dont le procès s’est tenu l’année dernière à Zug, vient en effet de rejoindre l’association de journalistes en qualité de « membre associé » ; un statut proposé par son comité exécutif à « tout individu, journal, fédération, réseau de télévision, sponsor ou association de toute nature qui contribue au fonctionnement de l’Association, ou dont les fonctions ont eu un impact sur les Jeux Olympiques ».

Pas de doute : Weber, qui s’est vu reproché par le tribunal pénal de Zug l’année dernière d’avoir distribué en plusieurs années près de 138 millions de Francs suisses de bakchich et d’avoir largement corrompu des dirigeants sportifs mondiaux en contrepartie des droits TV octroyés à ISL, a eu un méga impact sur les Jeux Olympiques ! Même, voire surtout, parce qu’il a toujours refusé de se mettre à table et d’identifier les bénéficiaires de ses largesses. Une qualité primordiale pour un journaliste lorsqu’il s’agit de ses sources !

Comme il se plaît à le rappeler sans fausse pudeur « il n’a rien fait d’illégal ». Un constat vaguement gêné, dressé fin 2008 par le tribunal de Zug en rappelant à une assistance mi-furieuse mi-goguenarde que le versement d’enveloppes même très épaisses n’était pas une pratique illégale pendant le règne de « l’empereur Weber » au sein d’ISL.

Weber innocenté, la Fifa soulagée
Un verdict qui, on s’en souvient, avait été accueilli par de vives réactions de la salle et un soulagement non dissimulé de la part de plusieurs membres de la FIFA et du Comité international olympique (CIO).

Si, pour Weber, il n’était pas illégal en droit suisse de les verser, les statuts des organisations sportives concernées interdisaient évidemment à leurs dirigeants concernés de les percevoir. D’où le mutisme du « trésorier Weber » qui s’est doublement comporté comme un « seigneur » : d’abord en lubrifiant généreusement les rouages du mouvement sportif, puis en taisant le nom des bénéficiaires de ses cadeaux.

Bien entendu, des voix de plusieurs membres de l’association de journalistes se sont élevées à l’annonce de l’arrivée de Weber. Son secrétaire général, le Suisse Adrian Warner a tenté de calmer le jeu en déclarant « j’ai envoyé un Email aux membres de l’association pour leur dire qu’on devait discuter de cette question à la suite de la protestation de l’un de nos membres ».

Le membre en question, le journaliste allemand Jens Weinreich, traque les turpitudes des dirigeants de la FIFA depuis des années. Il a couvert le procès de Zug l’année dernière, et menace tout bonnement de quitter l’association si Weber en reste membre. Fou de rage, il déclarait sur son blog il y a une dizaine de jours : « Je suis de retour de Coventry où j’ai participé à la très stimulante conférence organisée par PlaytheGame et je découvre dans le nouvel annuaire, mon nom à côté de celui d’un nouveau « membre associé » de l’AJO ; son nom ? Jean-Marie Weber… qui a élu Jean-Marie Weber ? Il n’a jamais été journaliste. Mais il a eu un rôle clé au sein du mouvement olympique. Il a payé les pots-de-vin ; d’énormes pots-de-vin ; des pots-de-vin versés peut-être pendant une trentaine d’années à des hauts dignitaires du sport ; est-ce-que ça le qualifie pour devenir membre de l’Association des Journalistes Olympiques ?.. ».

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