Members being threatened and verbally abused during LGCT Stockholm

The IAEJ board has received some disturbing information from members working at the Longines Global Champions Tour event in Stockholm taking place 16th to the 18th of June at the venue Ryttarstadion.

On Sunday an accident occurred in the warm-up, well-known Olympic medalist Peder Fredricson suffered a fall when warming up one of his horses ahead of a youngster class. It was immediately communicated from Peder Fredricson to the people coming first that he needed an ambulance and he instructed that he should not be moved. The show organization worked to put up shielding in waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

Journalists and photographers at the scene never had any clear view of Peder Fredricson, just lying very still to secure his neck, he was awake and lucid the whole time instructing people on the ground before the ambulance arrived.

What happened on the side-lines, some 50 meters from the site where the shielding where erected is nothing short of a debacle regarding the handling of requests for information from the assembled press; journalists and photographers.
Seasoned and well-reputed photographer and IAEJ member Roland Thunholm was on site as an accredited photographer and did his job: taking pictures of what happened.

“I was not in the way of the ambulance staff and stood outside the warm-up area. I didn’t take pictures of Peder, but of the shielding. That’s my job. Then some of LGCT’s own security guards came and forced me to leave. When they didn’t think I was going fast enough, they pushed me. I asked where I could stand, they showed me a place and I went there and took pictures and then they came again and were going to take my accreditation from me.”

The guards, who did not speak Swedish, thought that the pictures that Roland Thunholm took of the ambulance and the shielding violated privacy and they pressured the photographer to delete his pictures.

“I deleted a picture. Then I took the memory card out of the camera. I thought that if they took the camera away from me, at least they won’t get hold of the pictures”.

Now the Swedish Sports Journalists’ Association has reacted against the incident and is protesting the treatment that Roland Thunholm was subjected to.
“On the one hand, 80-year-old Thunholm has been treated brusquely, and on the other hand, the organizer has taken it upon themselves to decide which pictures he can take. It is unacceptable that an accredited journalist and/or photographer is hindered in his professional practice in this way”, says Jens Littorin, SSF’s chairman, in a statement on the association’s website.

Our member Roland Thunholm, a photographer, who was hindered in his work at the LGCT show in Stockholm tried to argue that it was his job as a press photographer to document the events happening, publication would be a separate and later decision by the editor-in-chief.

The LGCT press manager Floss Bish-Jones was hostile towards the local Swedish press representatives throughout the weekend but this incident on Sunday made it to the largest daily newspapers in Sweden (DN), Svenska Dagbladet, and to a number of different media outlets in Sweden. The incident Roland Thunholm was trying to capture was the shielded-off rescue operation after a fall in the warm-up by previous world no-1 Peder Fredricson who left the hospital Tuesday 20th of June with a neck injury (nothing fractured but severely bruised).

IAEJ member Annika Grundberg, editor-in-chief for the web edition of the magazine Hippson, bore witness to how the security staff tried to make all photographers leave in a very threatening way. The security staff also tried to put up covering shielding in front of the warm-up to stop the press from watching as the ambulance came to pick up Peder Fredricson some 50 meters away.

“It was a very threatening situation where the security staff tried to throw several of us out, taking our accreditation, although we only tried to get information. A very unpleasant weekend all in all where journalists and the few photographers on site were treated as scum. All we wanted was an official statement about Peder Fredricson and how he was doing, we were about 10-12 journalists waiting and no information came.”

Apart from the security staff acting aggressively and hostile, trying to remove photographers, the volunteers on the scene caught on and started name-calling the press representatives “hyenas, vultures, scumbags” and similar words in Swedish. According to Annika Grundberg, the whole situation was extremely unpleasant but only the tip of the iceberg as the working conditions during the weekend was extremely difficult. The press got no access to the riders after the classes, there were no press conferences and if reporters tried to talk to riders after the classes, they were all dismissed, and the riders were taken away.

The IEAJ will notify the LGCT and the FEI about this unpleasant and unnecessary incident hindering journalists and photographers to do their job, in this day and age it is truly several steps backward.

Journalists and photographers have been known to have trouble receiving accreditation with the LGCT, the organizer simply has no interest in having independent journalists and photographers on-site at their events.

Have you experienced problems with the LGCT as a journalist and/or photographer? Contact the IAEJ through our closed-member Facebook-page or by email to anyone on the board.