“Of Course I’m pissed” were the comments from Eurovision song contests chief executive Jon Ola Sand who is investigating the largest voting scandal in the history of the competition – according to Swedish media Aftonbladet.
Breaking his silence on the issue, Jon Ola Sand spoke to the Swedish News Agency and admits that the recent allegations of attempted vote-buying on behalf of Azerbaijan (according to Lithuanian news 15mins.lt) “– It is terribly annoying to someone trying to buy votes”. The allegations are centered around potentially 15 countries being targeted for vote-buying for Azerbaijan.
So behind closed doors meeting the EBU are now claiming that they are taking the situation seriously – “We still do not know who is behind this so we need to continue our research. For us it is obviously annoying that there is someone trying to influence the outcome. We try to do what is best for the Eurovision song contest, so it’s clear that I will be pissed.” claims Ola Sand.
However the former head of Eurovision Svante Stockselius , was more outspoken and stated that the “EBU is not afraid to buck the member countries, they can be tough on television companies if needed.” Strong words for one of the men who reinvented Melodifestivalen and Eurovision.
For the 8 years that Svante Stockselius presided over the Eurovision song contest, six broadcasters were fined for various rule violations. However none for vote rigging as this proved too difficult to prove. “Even before the telephone voting was introduced there were rumors that the jurors made up voting in the hallways and changed the 12-pointers with each other” says Stockselius.
If fraud can be proven on part of a member of the EBU, then it is an offense punishable by a fine or up to three years’ disqualification – yet this has never been enforced.
“This is of course embarrassing for Ictimai TV (the Azeri broadcaster).We are not a police force but we do the best we can by involving the various TV companies and trying to sort out what happened in Lithuania”, says Jon Ola Sand.
When asked if it is more important to keep secret how you control the voting than to convince those who question the results?
Jon Ola responded “Yes, it is indeed. Because if someone is trying to influence the outcome, it is important that we do not tell us how we control it, because then they take that tool away from us.”
So now we know at least that the EBU are just as frustrated as the general public and fans at the allegations of vote-buying, and that they are putting resources against the investigation. It is somewhat comforting to know that Svante Stockselius is getting behind the allegations and appears ready to enforce strict penalties if they are proven to be confirmed.
I am certainly in favor of these more open statements from the EBU concerning their investigations and progress. At least we now know the situation is being investigated. We again (like we always have said) the “vote buying” on behalf of Azerbaijan are merely allegations based on a Lithuanian TV’s undercover camera video that has yet to be 100% verified. Innocent until proven guilty people!
Author/Website co-founder and Editor in Chief Garrett Mulhall
Source – Aftondladet