ESPNSTAR.com columnist Jesse Fink has criticized World Sport Group's decision to pursue legal action against Singapore-based football journalist James M. Dorsey.
I've known Singapore-based football journalist James M. Dorsey for some time. I can vouch for his professionalism, his intelligence and his industry. His blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, is regularly mentioned in this column, chiefly because it's outstandingly good. He is an ornament to the profession of journalism and someone all followers of Asian football should be very concerned about right now.
That's because this week World Sport Group launched legal action against Dorsey, a senior fellow at S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, over his decision to publish information contained in a leaked, Asian Football Confederation-commissioned Pricewaterhouse Coopers audit report into the affairs of ousted AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam.
WSG is a commercial partner of the AFC and there were details in the report that would appear have caused WSG some upset.
But Dorsey wasn't the only journalist who came into possession of this audit report. It was flying around the internet. Some, like Dorsey, chose to publish the details contained in the report.
Others did not.
To my knowledge WSG has not disputed the veracity of Dorsey's reporting.
As Keir Radnedge wrote on his blog: "WSG's initial action is not understood to question the accuracy of Dorsey's reports and, indeed, suggests that they are too accurate and embarrassing for comfort."
And their gripe seems misdirected.
It should not be with Dorsey, who was just doing what he regarded as his professional duty.
As Gianni Merlo, president of AIPS, the International Sports Press Association, says: "Every journalist has a duty to report the truth and the great concern about many sport organisations has been a lack of transparency about their business dealings."
In my opinion WSG's opprobrium should be directed at whoever leaked the report in the first place. I don't know who that is - Is it someone within the AFC? Someone within PwC? - but shooting the messenger (Dorsey) seems to be counterproductive. If anything, taking the matter to Singapore's High Court is simply giving it more publicity.
Clearly WSG's intent is, in the words of Radnedge, to have Dorsey "reveal how he may have come into possession of internal AFC documents".
But I don't know that many journalists who reveal their sources and I can't see Dorsey revealing his any time soon.
It strikes me as all a bit pointless. If WSG want their pound of flesh, they could start asking questions of PwC and AFC about how the report was leaked before taking, in my view, such an unnecessary action against Dorsey.
Moreover, as one high-placed former Asian football political insider points out: "WSG should not be looking at those who leaked, in my view, but responding to the report. If the PwC report is wrong then WSG should address that with PwC and AFC, not put a stop writ on Dorsey or pursue someone concerned with leaking it."
The little guys are not the issue here.