Journalist claims he was barred from Fifa Congress in Bahrain due to royal family coverage

German journalist claims he wasn't granted Bahrain visa due to his previous reports on royals

FIFA President Gianni Infantino speaking at Congress in Bahrain

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called for Bahrain to allow a German reporter to be granted a visa, after the journalist claimed he'd been barred from covering a top Fifa event.

Freelance journalist Robert Kempe claimed the country would not allow him to have a visa in order to cover the Fifa Congress, which is taking place today (May 11), according to CPJ.

The man was sent an email by Bahrain's Ministry of Information in April stating that his request for a visa had not been approved, without providing a reason why.

Kepme works for German broadcaster ARD, he believes this decision may have been due to a report he put out in 2016 about Bahraini royal and Fifa vice president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa.

The report alleges that Al-Khalifa was part of human rights violations in the government's response to protests in 2011. The royal has denied the allegations. 

Kempe claims that he is the only journalist from ARD who was not granted a visa. The executive director of the CPJ also agreed with Kempe that this report is the likely reason for the refusal.

Joel Simon said: "In the absence of any official explanation, it is hard to come to any other conclusion than that Bahrain's denial of a visa to Robert Kempe is petty, vindictive retribution for his past reporting."

Fifa also claimed that Bahrain did not provide a reason for the refusal of the visa, it said: "The freedom of the press is of paramount importance to FIFA and we always aim to provide media representatives with the best possible conditions for free coverage of all FIFA events."

Sports coordinator at ARD Axel Belkausky, has now called on Fifa to ensure free reporting of its events and called the decision from Bahrain "a massive interference with press freedom."