The EBU and Eurovision chief Jan Ola Sand have been seriously shaken by the allegations of cheating and vote buying at Eurovision and are ramping up their investigation, according to newspaper reports emerging from Sweden.
The situation has struck a real nerve and created something of a Sand-storm. “Of course I’m pissed,” he told Sweden’s Aftonbladet newspaper. “It’s terribly annoying that someone [may be] trying to buy votes.”
Rumours have swirled for years that some countries attempt to buy votes, and they usually involve a p.r. company acting as the dirty middle man. There was finger-pointing even before the introduction of televoting: jury members supposedly exchanged 12-pointers in the hallways and backrooms of the Arena.
But following the contest in Malmö this year the EBU received the first piece of compelling—though still unproven—evidence when Lithuanian reporters went undercover and met with a man claiming to buy votes on behalf of Azerbaijan. He detailed the dark art of securing votes and claimed to operate in 15 countries. We must stress that the authenticity of the tape has not been independently verified.
Sand also told the paper that the EBU has committed substantial resources to its ongoing investigation.
Svante Stockselius—the Swedish TV producer who reinvigorated Melodifestivalen and oversaw the expansion of Eurovision before Sand—warns that action will be swift and harsh if any wrongdoing is uncovered. “The EBU is not afraid to buck the member countries,” he says. “They can be tough on television companies if needed.”
To read all of our coverage of the Eurovision voting scandal, click here.
Photo: LINA BOSTRÖM EINARSSON / Aftonbladet