13:36 GMT +319 September 2018
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    Hajo Seppelt, freelance journalist

    ARD Journalist Denied Visa to Russia for FIFA World Cup - Reports

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia has not issued a visa for the upcoming finals of the FIFA World Cup for a German journalist Hajo Seppelt, who works for the ARD broadcaster, the company said Friday.

    "Russia has voided the visa of ARD doping expert Seppelt, demanded for the World Cup… The ARD broadcaster considers this an unprecedented event in the history of ARD sport journalism and an unprecedented interference in press freedom in terms of coverage of major events, such as the World Cup," the broadcaster said.

    However, Sputnik has not been able to obtain a confirmation of this information from the Russian side yet.

    In the last four years, the ARD has aired several documentaries of Seppelt on alleged doping abuse in Russia. Following the release of the first film, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) launched an investigation into the allegations of doping abuse in Russian sports. In November 2015, WADA's Independent Commission issued a report accusing Russia of numerous breaches of global anti-doping regulations.

    ARD Program Director Volker Herres found this reported visa denial "hard to understand," and expressed hope that the decision, which he sees as the desire to gloss over unpleasant topics, would be revised. According to the broadcaster, the German Journalistic Union has also criticized the decision.

    Russia hosts the final part of the FIFA World Cup for the first time in history. The first match between Russia and Saudi Arabia to kick off at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on June 14 at 18:00 local time (15:00 GMT).

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    Tags:
    visa, denial, 2018 FIFA World Cup, ARD, Hajo Seppelt, Germany, Russia
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