PtG Article 08.09.2005

Sports editor speaks of violent attack at Play the Game

In October last year, Greek sports editor Philippos Syrigos of the Athens daily Eleftherotypia was brutally attacked when he left a radio station after a radio show. Thanks to emergency surgery Philippos Syrigos survived and in November he will attend Play the Game 2005 to talk about the price of reporting the dark side of sport.

The sports editor was attacked by two unknown men in the parking space near Super Sport FM radio station in Athens. One man hit Syrigos on the head with a metal bar, while the other stabbed him several times in the back.

So far the Greek police has not found the assailants. According to Yorgos Syrigos, son of Philippos Syrigos, the culprits could either be sports fans, people involved with doping, or people involved with corruption around the Olympic Games 2004. The police favours the first group but does not have any evidence.

At the conference, Philippos Syrigos will talk about the threats he received before the attack and link events to the stories he has covered.

Unfortunately, Philippos Syrigos is not the only sports journalist who has been assaulted for asking critical questions. Play the Game has compiled a list of incidents where sports journalists have been assaulted, killed or endured legal actions because of their work. Most notable among them is the case of the Burmese sports editor, Zaw Thet Htwe, who was sentenced to death over critical stories about football. Only later was the sentence commuted to jail time.

On the list is another recent attack against a sports journalist in Greece.

In May this year, Kostas Nikolakopoulos, was attacked by four hooded men armed with iron bars and knuckledusters. Kostas Nikolakopoulous believes that the attack was carried out by football hooligans and he had been receiving threats for three months beforehand.

Yorgos Syrigos, himself a sports journalist, does not believe that the two attacks on Greek sports journalists is a coincidence.

“Nothing works properly in sports and the government does not do enough to clear it up. In general, it is not dangerous to be a journalist in Greece, but in football there is a different mentality with too much money and too much anger,” he says.


The International News Safety Institute (INSI) specialises in safety training for journalists - including sports journalists.

Visit INSI

President of INSI is Chris Cramer who is also managing director of CNN International. He insisted that all his staff covering the Olympic Games in Athens had extensive courses in hostile-environment training before they set off.Learn why