Soccer org to help train local sports broadcasters

Johannesburg World soccer’s governing body is hoping to use the 2010 World Cup tournament, which began in South Africa on June 11, to give African broadcasters a boost in covering sports events.

The Federation Internationale de Football Assn. (FIFA) is partnering with the African Union of Broadcasting to provide African broadcast journalists with technical training and support to improve production quality.

“We wanted to create a project that would progress the development of broadcasting of (soccer) in Africa,” says Niclas Ericson, FIFA TV director.

According to Ericson, FIFA has signed more than 30 agreements with African broadcasting bodies, with plans to sign more in the near future.

The FIFA-AUB partnership hosted its first Legacy Week last year, with nearly 100 media professionals in each of the partner nations attending a weeklong training seminar in TV production, sports commentary and marketing.

FIFA estimates that more than 3,000 African TV and radio professionals will receive technical training during the program’s first stage, with plans to expand the program in the coming months.

Switzerland-based Host Broadcast Services, which is producing the TV and radio signals for a third successive World Cup tournament, is providing teachers and equipment for a series of courses to train commentators, cameramen, directors, producers and other technicians.

The AUB has its own production center and studio at the Intl. Broadcast Center in Johannesburg, where it is producing two shows during the World Cup, with AUB “talent both in front of and behind the camera,” according to Ericson.

Ericson says the broader goal is to teach African broadcasters to use their broadcast rights to create a sustainable source of capital for sports programming and other media properties as well.

“We wanted to use the media rights as leverage to create an environment where commercial exploitation of sports, TV production of (soccer), and presentation and programming are improved,” he says.

With the World Cup as a training ground, Ericson says both FIFA and the AUB stand to gain.

“It is a truly win-win project,” Ericson says. “The broadcasters improve their skills and handling of sports rights and TV production of (soccer), and FIFA gets a stronger media rights client base in Africa.”

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