The UK’s public broadcaster has come under fire for choosing not to broadcast the opening ceremony of the Qatar 2022 World Cup in its main coverage programme.
The BBC moved its coverage of Sunday’s opening ceremony to second-tier streams, including its “red button” service, iPlayer online app and its sports website.
However, viewers who tuned in to its main coverage on BBC One were unable to catch the amazing, inclusion-themed show from Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, missing out on some highlights such as the performance of BTS star Jungkook and Qatari singer Fahad Al-Kubaisi.
When Russia hosted the World Cup in 2018, it had already annexed Crimea and occupied eastern Ukraine. At the time, there was no criticism from the BBC, and the opening ceremony was shown in its entirety. Today, however, the BBC has chosen to lecture us. shameful.
– Muhammad Jalal (@jalalayn) November 20, 2022
Morgan Freeman, who narrated the ceremony, appeared in the stadium to shake hands with soccer’s World Cup ambassador, who suffers from a spinal disorder, in an image meant to represent integration in a country facing criticism over its human rights record.
– FIFA World Cup (FIFA WorldCup) November 20, 2022
BBC One was broadcasting the Chelsea-Tottenham Women’s Premier League match, which ended after the opening ceremony had begun. The BBC’s social media team also posted a four-minute video to Instagram around the same time, recalling the 1982 Gay Pride Games, which were organized by former Olympians to highlight homophobia in the sport.
When the channel switched to its show broadcasting from Qatar, presenters Gary Lineker, Alex Scott and Alex Shearer discussed the allegations against the host country.
“It’s the most controversial World Cup in history and the ball hasn’t been kicked yet,” Lineker, the former England football captain, said in his opening monologue.
Since FIFA selected Qatar back in 2010, the youngest country to host soccer’s biggest competition has faced some big questions. From accusations of corruption in the bidding process to the treatment of migrant workers who built the stadiums where many lost their lives.”
– 𝐹𝒶𝓉𝒾𝓂𝒶 𝐵𝒶𝓇𝓀𝒶𝓉𝓊𝓁𝓁𝒶 (FatimaBarkatula) November 20, 2022
“Homosexuality is illegal here, and women’s rights and freedom of expression are in the spotlight. So is the decision made six years ago to switch the World Cup from summer to winter.
“Against this backdrop, there is a tournament going on, one that will be watched and enjoyed all over the world. Stick to football FIFA says, OK, we’ll do it, for a few minutes at least.”
Surprised to discover that the BBC in the UK decided not to broadcast the opening ceremony of the first ever Arab World Cup?! There have been some amazing moments, like this one 👇🏽 #Qatar 2022 pic.twitter.com/90NNykYn0V
– Alex Macheras (@AlexInAir) November 20, 2022
In the 12 years since it was awarded the right to host the first World Cup in the Middle East, Qatar has reformed its labor laws, including abolishing the much-criticised sponsorship system and the exit permit system, which was abused by unscrupulous employers. Qatar also introduced a minimum wage and new regulations for working in hot conditions as part of its labor reforms.
In a report released this month, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said Qatar had made progress on its labor reforms – improving working and living conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers – but said implementation challenges remained.
World Cup organizers say all fans, regardless of their sexual orientation, are welcome in Qatar.
In the conservative Qatari society, public displays of affection are frowned upon, and not just between gay couples.
A BBC spokesperson told Al Jazeera that: “The full build and full coverage of the World Cup is available via the BBC, including the opening ceremony on iPlayer.”
BBC host Gary Lineker hit back at the critics, saying it was all about timing and logistics, tweeting: “It was shown live in its entirety. @employeeBBC Sport website and the red button. The timing of the Opening Ceremony has been changed to an earlier time recently and WSL has already been confirmed @employee. If you want to watch it, you can.”
The opening match and opening ceremony of the World Cup were brought forward to one day from FIFA’s original plan, as the move was announced more than three months ago, in August.