Concerns over media facilities at World Cup venue

The recent men’s hockey World Cup in Delhi was characterised by power cuts in the press centre at the most inconvenient times. Here, ERIC WEIL provides some warning about the facilities awaiting those working at the women’s World Cup, being staged in Argentina later this year

Media facilities at the two recent tournaments held in Argentina — the men’s World Cup qualifier and Champions Challenge Trophy – raise concern about what arrangements will be like for the women’s World Cup in Rosario, Argentina, later this year.

At the World Cup qualifier, held at the National Hockey Stadium in Quilmes, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, no transport was provided for the media as was done at previous tournaments. The stadium is at least half an hour’s drive from the centre of Buenos Aires by car and over an hour by public transport. Hotel accommodation was unnecessary as among some 60 journalists, two or three from abroad came with their team delegations.

The stadium has permanent press seats with desks at the front of the covered stand with excellent view, but the white press tent (100 metres away) had problems — under sunlight it made it impossible to see computer screens (luckily most days were wet and cloudy) and in the evening there was not enough electric light. Surprisingly, the FIH media officer did not object.

While there is no obligation to provide food and drink, the stadium’s restaurant was enclosed in the VIP area and out of bounds for the media.

The first few days were very hot and mineral water was only brought to the press room on the third day. No pre-tournament information was provided for media and while match and result forms came and press conferences and individual interviews were held, none of this happened on the last day when the local media officer joined celebrations on the field where interviews
were held without advice to the press room. I found the results forms from the out of bounds empty FIH office lying on a chair.

The Champions Challenge was held in Salta (1,500 kilometres north of Buenos Aires) and, according to the very willing local media officer, had over 90 journalists accredited (not counting TV), again with a few from abroad coming with their team delegations. Again no hotels, with special rates, were offered to the media, but on (my) request, the local media officer not only
obtained a cheap rate at a hotel, but also kindly arranged free tours of this beautiful colonial town and surroundings.

But again no transport was provided for journalists although the Popeye Club tournament venue was on the outskirts of the town. The press room was small with half a dozen folding tables to use with laptops, which seemed rather precarious but ample
as it appeared that many of the accredited journalists were not actually working there on a daily basis.

A good pre-tournament information booklet was provided, match and result forms (but never any standings, scorers and card details), press conference and individual interviews after every game next to the press room which had the unusual advantage of toilets next door exclusively for media. Also, soft drinks of all types were offered.

The problem was the “press box” or its non-existence — some stone steps with no cover (it rained quite a bit) at the end of the field, parallel to the goalposts and with a higher covered VIP stand next to it, so that there was only partial visibility of play and the only time clock on the same side as the VIP stand.

It was therefore impossible to work with a laptop during play although I asked for chairs to be put there when it did not rain. I fail to understand how the FIH media officer (Yan Huckendubler from Canada) OK’d this.

It should be remembered that when the Rosario Jockey Club, venue of this year’s women’s World Cup, organised the women’s Champions Trophy a few years ago, media arrangements, hotels, transport, etc. were fine. But it was only organised properly not long before the event when HWC member Graciela Ortiz — who is not presently involved in hockey — went to Rosario to arrange it.

This report first appeared in the February 2010 edition of The Hockey Writer, the magazine of the Hockey Writers’ Club. For membership details, please click here

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