The Associated Press and other major news organizations may not cover the third-round match of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers between El Salvador and Mexico because of a dispute with the Salvadoran Football Federation over credentials for journalists.
The Salvadoran federation imposed charges of $25 to $50 for credentials for the match to be held in San Salvador's Cuscatlan Stadium on June 12. The Associated Press, Reuters and AFP refused to pay the fee.
"We are surprised fees are being sought for access to cover a match. We are hopeful that the situation will improve so that AP and other outlets can provide coverage sought by the public," said Lou Ferrara, AP's managing editor for sports.
The Salvadoran federation said the fee is to pay for the printing of credentials and other "logistics aspects" of the organization of the event.
"We don't have the material here to make the credentials, we have to buy it. There's no profit, we're not looking to profit," said Oreste Mebreno, director of the Salvadoran federation's media department.
He said Cuscatlan Stadium does not have a press area, so the journalists will sit in the stands where tickets usually cost $50 a seat.
"Each journalist will get a seat and internet access which won't be charged for," Mebreno added.
He didn't know if the federation plans to charge for future matches in the qualifiers. El Salvador's next local match is September 7 against Guyana.
It is highly unusual for national federations to charge for credentials for international matches. The spokesperson for the Mexican federation, Juan Jose Kochen, said they have never charged for credentials.
The sports editor of the Mexican newspaper El Universal, Ivan Pirron, said they already had paid for their credentials.
"In my 20 years in sports journalism, I've never heard of having to pay for a credential. I think it's incredible and reprehensible," said Pirron. "But the majority of the Mexican media will pay their 'toll' and the Salvadoran federation knows that, because it's one of the two most important matches for the 'Tri' (Mexico) before every World Cup."