Media Organization

by Keith Cooper
director of FIFA's Communication Division

Press conference after the quarter-final.
Press conference after the quarter-final between Portugal and France in Miami. The team managers Vingada (POR) and Domenech (FRA) can be seen 3rd and 2nd from the right respectively.
The particular status of the Olympic Football Tournaments was also reflected in the arrangements for the media covering the matches and related events. Unable to make media arrangements as at a regular FIFA competition, FIFA's media services cooperated with the ACOG press department and were able to make use of their specific experience of major football tournaments.

The Games were preceded by extended discussions between FIFA, the IOC and ACOG with regard to media accreditation. Although not at all responsible for the accreditation process, FIFA had received hundreds of requests from football media throughout the world seeking accreditation in order to cover only the football tournaments, with no intention or interest to cover other sports in Atlanta or elsewhere. Thanks to the personal intervention of the FIFA President, a certain number of special football-only accreditations were finally issued by the Olympic authorities and this solved the problem to some extent.

The media facilities at the football matches were thus not fully occupied at several matches, although the interest obviously grew as the tournaments progressed. The success of the US women's team, in particular, attracted increasing media attention especially from the home-based media, which helped put women's football even more in the spotlight. And the Nigerians' success against Brazil in the men's semi-final aroused the interest of more American media as they sensed (rightly) a first African football gold in the Final.

Television interest around the world was overwhelming.
Whereas the Olympic Football Tournaments attracted little TV coverage in the USA, television interest around the world was overwhelming.
The generally relaxed atmosphere of the games was evident also at most of the post-match press activities, which operated on the basis of a combination of press conferences and mixed zone interviews. Team coaches and players are to be commended on the high standard of sportsmanship and fair play demonstrated on these occasions, as coaches such as Brazil's Zagallo and Argentina's Daniel Passarella accepted defeat with dignity in a manner which earned them the admiration of the press.

Despite this crescendo of media attention, however, the football tournaments received disappointingly little coverage on the US television channel for the Olympics, NBC, who chose largely to ignore the matches until the Finals - and even these were not covered in full. Not only FIFA and other football circles, but also the American public and media repeatedly expressed their dissatisfaction with NBC's policy, which many felt was based upon its longer-term relationship with other sports in the US. But while American viewers were unfortunately deprived of the football action, the games were widely shown elsewhere in the world.