September 10, 2011 / 4:08 PM / in 7 years

Sudan suspends six sports newspapers

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan will suspend six sports newspapers and issue warnings to three others, the national press council said on Saturday, for violations including encouraging violence between rival soccer teams, in the latest crackdown on the media.

Sudan’s constitution guarantees press freedom but journalists increasingly complain about pressure and censorship. Last week, the independent al-Sahafa daily said security services had banned its publication for one day.

The National Press Council will suspend the sports newspapers because they had violated journalistic standards and for administrative issues, which are damaging Sudan’s reputation, its Secretary General El-Obeid Ahmed Morawah said.

He cited the encouragement of violence between competing football teams as one violation.

He did not name the newspapers, saying the council would notify them first.

The council will issues warnings against three other sports newspapers on the same grounds and start court action against some sports reporters, he said.

Soccer is a passion for millions of Sudanese and the nine sports newspapers have a higher circulation than political newspapers.

The sports newspapers are locked in fierce competition. Reporters often attack soccer executives and reporter colleagues and write about their private lives. Analysts say authorities are concerned that some reporters take bribes or try to bribe players.

Human rights groups have criticised a crackdown on media and press freedom in the African country. The council can suspend papers without any court approval.

In July, the council suspended six newspapers because southerners were among their publishers or owners, a day before South Sudan became independent.

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