Belgian broadcaster suspends sports journalist after making offensive remarks about 'male' basketball players at the Olympics

Belgian broadcaster suspends sports journalist after making offensive remarks about ‘male’ basketball players at the Olympics

Belgian broadcaster VRT has suspended sports presenter Eddie Demaris. The reason is the derogatory statements made by Demarez, among others, about the attitudes of women on the Belgian basketball team.

VRT previously decided he was no longer allowed to comment on sports matches and live broadcasts and said it would know in the coming weeks if and how Demarez can resume work. The Flemish Information Minister, Benjamin Dahl, is counting on the broadcaster to “take appropriate action”.

Yesterday there was an uproar about a portion of the Facebook Live broadcast The arrival of the Belgium team, including the basketball team known to our southern neighbors as the Belgian Cats.

In an unguarded moment – when the cameras kept rolling, but the commentators themselves were no longer in the picture – other subjects emerged. During the conversation, you can hear how some people, including sports journalist Eddie Demarez, are speculating about the trends of the women’s basketball team. Name jokes are made and some women are described as ‘man’ and ‘giant’.

The clip went viral on Twitter last night where it was immediately criticized. “Not heard of Belgian cats statements behind the scenes, live. Public apologies Eddie Demarez and the editors are more than appropriate.”

The text continues below.

Eddie Damaris.

Eddie Damaris. © GARDEN

Several players also expressed their dissatisfaction on Twitter. “Disrespectful, painful and humiliating. It’s good that I come home this way,” Han wrote, bemused. Captain Ann Waters continued: “Absolutely unacceptable!” I was shocked. Disgusting.”

especially reprehensible

In an internal email to VRT staff, broadcaster Frederic Delaplace now says Demarez has been suspended, which has also been confirmed by VRT itself. “We’ll see in the coming weeks if and how he can resume work.” Delaplace describes it as particularly reprehensible that all of the sports channel’s work in recent weeks during the Olympics “is now called into question by a series of unacceptable statements by a single employee”.

According to Delaplace, there is no place in the public broadcast of discrimination, hatred, and slander about the way people live their lives. VRT does not discriminate between people on the basis of gender, religion, skin color, or sexual orientation. Not on screen, but not behind the scenes either. Showing respect to all can and should remain a hallmark of public broadcasting. We make no concessions and set standards higher than anyone else.”

The text continues below the tweet.


The Max Agency, the administrative office that oversees a number of players, also reacted with fury. “As the administrative office of many professional athletes and athletes in basketball and volleyball, we have learned with dismay, deep disappointment and undeniable anger at the audio clip in which some of our players who are part of the Belgian Cats have been completely misplaced and so cheaply insulted and humiliated by people who are only supposed to comment on their athletic achievements,” Max wrote the agency on Facebook.

The bureau also finds it “disgusting” to determine that damage can still be done in this way today. “And this is at a time when the media is talking about the importance of respecting the mental well-being of athletes more and better.”

“We will take this even further and expect appropriate responses from the relevant authorities, which should go beyond the usual and largely insignificant initial apologies. On behalf of our athletes, we will make sure that the injustice done to them is acknowledged and that the necessary debate about this does not quickly fade away.”

VRT . response

VRT distanced itself from the comments in an official response yesterday, and already said that Eddie Demarez will not temporarily comment on the live broadcast. Here is the full response:

Broadcasting the tribute to the Olympic medal winners this afternoon via FacebookLive Sporza (VRT Sports Channel, Editor), sports journalist Eddie Demarez spoke inappropriately about the Belgian cats. The video channel remained open and although Eddie was out of the picture, The inappropriate comment was clearly heard. Spurza and VRT are distancing themselves from this situation. This is completely against the positive policy that VRT wants to follow. VRT will speak to Eddy and in the meantime will not comment on the programs. Such statements cannot be tolerated.”


In ecstasy after honoring the returning medal winners, I made statements in a private conversation that seriously crossed the line.

Eddie Damaris

double pity

Damaris himself also reacted: “In the euphoria that followed honoring the returning medalists, I made statements in a private conversation with which I seriously crossed the line,” apparently.

“I have never intended to offend anyone based on gender or orientation. It is doubly unfortunate that these statements are a disgrace to the highly successful games for Team Belgium and Sporza. So I would like to sincerely apologize to the Belgian Cats and their team and also to anyone who feels offended, treated or Carelessness because of this. I have asked the Belgian Cat Company to send them my apologies in person. I will draw necessary lessons from this and ensure that this does not happen again in the future.”

On the left is a clip from the live broadcast of Sporza, on the right is the Belgian cats of Zaventem.

On the left is a clip from the live broadcast of Sporza, on the right is the Belgian cats of Zaventem. © Photo News


Flemish Information Minister Benjamin Dahl responded on Twitter today: “Homosexual and offensive statements do not belong on social media, in the café or on public broadcasting. No place. Greatest respect for the Belgian cats and for their Olympic performance.”

According to the minister, what happened is unacceptable and Daly is convinced that the VRT has taken immediate action. The minister said through his spokesperson that it is now up to VRT itself to see how public radio will follow up on this internally, but Dalle is counting on the appropriate measures to be taken. It is up to VRT management to decide what these actions are.

earlier The Greek public broadcaster ERT . launched I fired one of its commenters after a racist comment. Demosthenes Karmires targeted the eyes of a South Korean athlete who closed his eyes during a table tennis match at the Olympics.

Jeong Young-sik had just beaten Greek Panagiotis Jeunesses in the third round after a thrilling seven-set match. The guest commentator on the service was asked why South Koreans generally excel in the sport. “I also don’t understand how they can see that ball fly back and forth so fast with their slanting eyes,” the answer wasn’t very tactful.

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