Cincinnati suspended reporter's credential over transfer stories - sources

Cincinnati Suspends Reporter’s Credentials Amid Transfer Story Controversy, Sources Say

Jeff Carlisle, a dedicated U.S. soccer correspondent for ESPN FC, reports on the latest developments from the soccer world. On March 16, 2024, an intriguing incident unfolded involving FC Cincinnati and Laurel Pfahler, a respected local sports journalist. The issue at hand was FC Cincinnati’s decision to temporarily suspend Pfahler’s press pass due to disagreements over her coverage of the team’s player transactions.

The club decided to suspend Pfahler’s credential for two weeks, a decision made public by Pfahler herself through her platform, Queen City Press, shortly after. This move by FC Cincinnati sparked a significant amount of discussion and controversy.

In response to the suspension, FC Cincinnati released a statement criticizing Pfahler’s professionalism. The club accused her of not adhering to the ethical standards set by the Society of Professional Journalists and the MLS’s guidelines for credential use. They argued that despite multiple attempts to address these issues, Pfahler did not take responsibility for her actions. However, the club chose not to disclose specific details out of respect for professional decorum.

Pfahler, standing firm against the accusations, issued a statement of her own. She refuted the claims of unethical behavior and defended her journalistic practices. Pfahler highlighted her commitment to covering the team by engaging with various sources, a method she believes is essential for thorough reporting.

The controversy primarily stemmed from questions regarding the accuracy of Pfahler’s reports on several player transactions. Notably, her coverage of Álvaro Barreal’s loan move to Cruzeiro was a point of contention. Pfahler reported that Barreal’s departure was not due to dissatisfaction with FC Cincinnati, a narrative the club disputed.

The issue also involved alleged violations of credential use conditions, particularly concerning the unauthorized use of event descriptions for commercial purposes. This aspect of the dispute underscores the complexities of sports journalism and the importance of clear guidelines.

MLS has chosen not to comment on the situation. However, the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) has been actively involved, seeking to mediate between MLS and Pfahler. The NASR consulted with the Society of Professional Journalists, which emphasized that denying press credentials should not be a tactic used against journalists who maintain professional conduct.

Pfahler has been a prominent figure in covering FC Cincinnati since its early days in the USL Championship, contributing to the team’s media coverage alongside her work with other sports teams and outlets. Her press credential is expected to be reinstated in time for the upcoming match against New York City FC on March 23.

This incident highlights the delicate balance between sports organizations and the media, underscoring the importance of open communication and mutual respect in the world of sports journalism.