BBC Receives Flak for Not Airing Qatar World Cup Opening Ceremony

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FIFA President Gianni Infantino defended Qatar from the ongoing backlash from certain international media outlets.

THE BBC’s decision to not air the opening ceremony of the Qatar World Cup live has drawn criticism from sports fans as well as politicians and journalists.

The broadcaster is facing intense backlash from football fans around the world for not broadcasting the opening ceremony in favour of the criticism of Qatar. BBC instead broadcasted stories of alleged human rights violations in Qatar.

The World Cup kicked off in Qatar on Sunday which faced a barrage of criticism over its treatment of foreign workers, LGBT rights and social restrictions, staking its reputation on delivering a smooth tournament.

American actor Morgan Freeman and a performance of a new tournament song called Dreamers featuring singer Jungkook of K-pop boy band BTS, alongside Qatari singer Fahad Al-Kubaisi were among the highlights of the ceremony.

However, the BBC relegated the ceremony to the “Red Button” service — additional programmes that can be accessed by pressing a red button on the TV remote — and online, TRT World said in a report.

Former England Football captain Lineker called it the most controversial opening ceremony in world cup matches. “It’s the most controversial World Cup in history and a ball hasn’t even been kicked,” said Lineker in his remarks while commenting on the ongoing world cup match in Qatar.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino defended Qatar from the ongoing backlash from certain international media outlets.

“Europe should stop the criticism and focus on improving its migrants’ conditions. … What we Europeans have been doing for the last 3,000 years, we should be apologising for the next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons,” he said on Saturday.

Piers Morgan, the popular TV host in the UK, criticised the UK for not airing the ceremony while many footballs fans home awaited to watch it.

“Outrageously disrespectful to Qatar that the BBC didn’t broadcast the World Cup opening ceremony, and instead put out more virtue-signaling guff about how awful it is. If they’re that appalled, they should bring home their vast army of employees & spare us this absurd hypocrisy,” said Morgan.

In another tweet, he questioned why the BBC chose to air the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics. “Are China’s human rights abuses not as bad as Qatar’s?”





Commentator James Melville said that while he understood why the BBC had opened their World Cup broadcasting with a condemnation of Qatar’s human rights record, he could not remember them doing the same when China hosted the Winter Olympics.

Journalist Ayman Mohyeldin also shared a similar view. “The BBC didn’t air Qatar’s World Cup opening ceremony in protest. Yet just 9 months ago, the BBC aired the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in China,” he said, terming it to be the “epitome of hypocrisy and double standards”.

— With inputs from media

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Cover photo: General view of the official mascot La’eeb during the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at the Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, Qatar, November 20. — Reuters

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