'The Manchester United Asia Tour 2009 Arrival Press Conference' yesterday afternoon, at the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, turned out to be conference for cameramen!
The Press Conference organised by the MU Asian Tour Organisers, ProEvents International Sdn Bhd, turned out to be a nightmare for journalists.
There were easily about 40 television crew and media photographers at the Press Conference hall.
Well before the arrival of the MU entourage of MU CEO, David Gill, team manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Gary Neville, the television crew has set up their cameras right in front of the main table. The moment the MU officials and Neville walked, they were swamped by the cameramen from both print and electronics media, as they made their way to the table.
On the contrary, when national coach K. Rajagobal made his entrance soon after the MU delegation, there was hardly a cameramen who took his shot, as they had all parked themselves in front of the main table.
Sports journalists, both local and foreign, were totally hidden by these cameramen who stood their ground firmly.
After the opening address by Gill, where he informed the team's decision to call-off their next Tour stop to Jakarta following the suicide bombing earlier in the morning at the hotel they were supposed to stay, and speeches by Julian Kam the CEO cum FIFA Match Agent from ProEvents and Datuk Redzuan Tan Sri Sheikh Ahmad, the deputy president of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), the interview session began.
The main table.... from left Gary, David, Sir Ferguson and Datuk Redzuan
The journalists asked the questions through the microphones placed at strategic points, but the strategic points turned out to be "blind spots". As questions were fired at Ferguson, he could not see whose was asking the questions. Surprisingly, he answered all the questions to faceless journalists!
There was only one question for Rajagobal, by JAI HO (Christopher Raj), towards the end of the Press Conference, but despite Christopher's big stature, Rajagobal although recognising the voice, was trying to locate him as he answered the question in vain.
Several foreign sports journalists who asked the questions and had to encounter similar problems, certainly must have disappointed at the manner the Press Conference was conducted.
There were several things the organisers could have done to avoid the messy situation yesterday afternoon. To start with, they could have placed a raised platform at the back of the seats of the journalists, for the cameramen to be positioned.
Other measures they could have taken include:
a) have the cameramen place their cameras at the centre of aisle between the chairs for the journalists and cleared the area in front of the main table with barriers. They could have positioned the cameramen at the sides.
b) the cameramen could been allowed to take pictures from in front of the main table before the press conference started and cleared to their designated areas.
c) to address the immediate situation, the cameramen could have been requested to be seated, so as not to block the journalists behind them.
I was shocked that no attempt was made by the organisers to address the chaotic situation.
Ferguson and his team, surely must have had a bad impression at the manner the Press Conference was conducted.
It is hoped that tonight, after the match at the National Stadium, when the post-match Press Conference is held, there will be better control, especially when a bigger number of print and electronic media personnel, both local and foreign are expected.
We certainly do not want to see a pandemonium break up at the Press Conference tonight.
Pictures courtesy of Rizal Hashim