Fox executive producer David Neil said his network won’t be looking to do “Real Sports” or “E:60,” newsmagazine-style shows notorious for tackling thorny issues off the field. “We really believe that viewers come to us at Fox Sports for the World Cup to watch the World Cup,” he said.
President Telemundo Deportes responded differently. He said the network’s news department and sister network NBC will cover the action in Qatar, adding that on the sports side: “I think we should talk about the legacy we’re leaving. By the time the tournament is over, we’re [won’t have been] Ignore the geopolitical issues that may arise.”
A spokeswoman for Telemundo, which is owned by Comcast, later said the network would follow NBC Sports’ approach to this year’s Winter Olympics in China; The hosts discussed the alleged genocide of the Uighurs during coverage of the opening ceremony. The network expects to address the human rights situation in Qatar As part of the opening day coverage on Sunday and throughout the tournament as needed.
The various strategies of the broadcasters responsible for bringing the World Cup to American audiences will come under scrutiny next month with the arrival of Western journalists, fans and soccer players in Qatar, a theocratic monarchy strictly governed by Islamic laws and customs. The US team has unveiled a new rainbow logo that will be displayed at its hotel in response to laws prohibiting homosexuality in Qatar. The Australian team released a video in support of the LGBTQ+ community and workers’ rights.
A senior British diplomat tells LGBT World Cup fans to be “respectful” in Qatar
For Fox, the strategy is identical to the way he handled the World Cup in Russia four years ago. But there is another dynamic in Qatar: Qatar Airways, the state-owned airline, will act as the main sponsor of the network’s coverage, which means that Fox’s productions in Qatar are essentially guaranteed by the Qatari government.
In June, Neil told Sports Business Journal that Fox would send a “small army” of 150 staff and broadcasters to Qatar and that Fox would be the first US network to have broadcasters in stadiums for all World Cup matches, in part because the venues are so close together.
But according to three people familiar with Fox’s plans, the network initially planned to use production mostly remotely and send a small pool of staff and talent to Qatar. The strategy did not change until after the deal with Qatar Airways was completed; The people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose private discussions, said the agreement included combined flights to Qatar.
The relationship between the airline and the network dates back to last year, when Qatar Airways announced a partnership with CONCACAF and was the primary sponsor of Fox’s Gold Cup coverage. Including the streamers on his studio set.
A Telemundo spokeswoman said Qatar Airways is not a sponsor of its coverage.
The Qataris hope to use the World Cup to showcase their country to a wider global audience. An important part of that was having an American broadcaster in the country, said two of the people who were told about the deal. They described Fox executives as celebrating the deal because the network could offer viewers more robust broadcasting but wouldn’t have to pay for it.
FOX unveiled an elaborate studio on Doha’s waterfront featuring four stages and more than 20 LED screens.
In a statement, Fox said: “Qatar Airways is a major sponsor of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and will have a significant presence in our full coverage of the tournament. They, along with our range of distinguished sponsors, allow us the opportunity to offer unrivaled coverage of what is arguably one of the best tournaments around the world. EVER World Cup with the long-awaited return of the US Men’s National Team.”
Asked if the Qatar Airways sponsorship had any impact on its coverage, a Fox spokesperson said, “Absolutely not.”
After this story was published, a Fox spokeswoman sent an additional statement to the Mail, denying that the network’s deal with Qatar Airways included Complex flights.
Today’s WorldView: The political debate surrounding the Qatar World Cup
The change in schedule from the usual summer World Cup was made to accommodate the sweltering heat in Qatar and would be an inconvenience to any American broadcaster. Instead of sharing the summer with baseball alone, this tournament will compete for viewers with the NFL and college football. Fox reportedly paid more than $400 million for the men’s and women’s four world cup tournaments between 2015 and 2023. Telemundo reportedly paid about $600 million.
How the tournament is covered – and how Qataris react to it – will be watched closely. In a decision issued in 11 hours, Qatar reversed course and banned the sale of alcoholic beverages in stadiums. It was a major story for several news outlets on Friday morning, and was referenced in the recent news section on Telemundo Deportes’ website, but not on Fox Sports. Before the start of the tournament, a Danish photographer this week In a confrontation with Qatari officials, they threatened to smash his camera for filming a live report in a public place.
The Athletic published an article this week by football editor Alex Kai Gilsky detailing his mixed feelings, as a gay man and sports journalist, about covering the tournament.
“some [reporters] He will write about great games and goals, and others will break stories about line-ups or fallout,” he wrote. “But much will also focus on what happens off the field, on the fact that some LGBT+ fans are forced to stay in safe houses, and on the families of workers who died in The construction of stadiums, and on the absurd policies that brought heroism to Qatar, on the realities of life for the women who live there, and will be once the circus packs up and leaves.”
Qatar Airways has been a respected brand in the football world for many years now. It was Barcelona’s first sponsor from 2013 to 2017 before the club ended the “Social Issues” agreement. Today, Qatar Airways is Bayern Munich’s shirt sponsor, although club members have pressured directors not to renew the deal when it expires in 2023.
At the team’s annual general meeting last month, Oliver Kahn, the team’s chief executive, said: “There has been progress in Qatar in the field of labor and human rights. No one has indicated that Qatar is a country that meets European standards. But if you want to change and start something, You have to meet people and talk to them and exchange ideas instead of excluding them.”
Stephen Goff contributed to this report.