Monday, November 28, 2022

BBC shows Lineker aiming for Qatar human rights record instead of World Cup opening ceremony

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Gary Lineker opened the BBC’s coverage of Qatar by calling the tournament “the most controversial World Cup in history”.

Gary Lineker opened the BBC’s coverage of Qatar 2022 by calling the tournament the “most controversial World Cup in history”.

The presenter had promised that the BBC broadcast of the opening match would be like a “mini panorama” highlighting Qatar’s human rights record, homophobia and working conditions at the stadium.

Lineker, known for his vocal political views, welcomed viewers to “the most controversial World Cup in history… and not even a ball was kicked.”

In his opening monologue, he went on to say that the smallest nation hosting the World Cup has “big questions” to answer, and made allegations of “corruption” in the Fifa process that rewarded Qatar’s bid.

Those issues, Lineker said, included Qatar’s “treatment of migrant workers…many of whom lost their lives” in building the stadiums.

Lineker reminded viewers that homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and that women’s rights and freedom of expression would also be in the spotlight over the next month.

However, the former England star concluded by saying there was still one football tournament to be “seen and enjoyed around the world”.

Lineker himself said he was not considering boycotting the event but, like the BBC, had been there “not to support” the event.

“Stick to football, Fifa says, and we’ll do it at least for a few minutes,” Lineker said. After a brief discussion with panellists, including Alan Shearer, about the likely winners, the BBC presented a film by news correspondent Ros Atkins, which analyzed in detail allegations of how the trophy was awarded to Qatar and evidence of the treatment of migrant workers.

Lineker then chaired a panel discussion on the subject of “sports underwear” with the panel.

The opening ceremony was relegated to the BBC Sport website and the ‘red button’, with BBC One instead showing the Chelsea vs Spurs Women’s Super League match ahead of coverage of the opening game.

The website’s text commentary on the ceremony at Al Bayt Stadium was noticeably skeptical, noting at one point: “Morgan Freeman speaks of the ’emotions that bind us all together now’. I wonder how much he was paid for it.”

Lineker then chaired a panel discussion on the subject of “sports underwear”. Expert Alex Scott slammed Fifa President Gianni Infantino for a series of bizarre comments he made over the weekend, saying he felt “gay” and “disabled”.

Before discussing the opening game, Lineker introduced the BBC’s international editor Jeremy Bowen to discuss what the tournament would mean for the Middle East.

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