Berlin protests WC ban on German scribe

Berlin protested Monday against Moscow's decision to ban from the World Cup the German journalist who broke the story on Russia's state-sponsored doping scandal, stoking further an already controversial tournament.

The row erupted just days before German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, who in recent years has clashed repeatedly with Western leaders on a litany of issues including the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.

Russia was already a disputed choice when it was handed the World Cup in a closely-watched 2010 vote that has since been tainted by bribery charges.

But it was German journalist Hajo Seppelt's documentaries on doping among Russian athletes that sparked a storm and ended up with Russia being banned from this winter's Pyeongchang Olympic games.

The row came full circle as it emerged Friday that Moscow has refused to allow in Seppelt to cover the World Cup, which kicks off next month.

"We view this measure by the Russian authorities to invalidate Seppelt's visa as wrong," said German government spokesman Steffen Seibert.

"We call on the Russian leadership to allow this German correspondent to enter the country to report on the football World Cup tournament."

Asked if Merkel would raise the issue when she meets Putin on Friday, Seibert said: "Let's wait to see what this week brings."

Seppelt had revealed Friday that his application for a visa, submitted by public regional broadcaster SWR, was rejected as he was apparently on a "persona non grata" list in Russia.

 

 

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Berlin protests WC ban on German scribe

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