The Qatari government presumably believed that by spending millions of pounds on a World Cup opening ceremony that featured Morgan Freeman, Jung Kook from BTS, and hundreds of performers, the global media would finally turn its attention away from human rights and toward sports.
What it probably didn’t expect was that the BBC would completely overlook the incident in favor of a show that condemned the treatment of migrant workers, exposed corruption at FIFA, and covered the law against homosexuality in Qatar. And those first two minutes were just the beginning.
The Match of the Day host Gary Lineker welcomed viewers to the start of the national broadcaster’s coverage on BBC One by saying, “It’s the most controversial World Cup in history and a ball hasn’t yet been kicked.” Since FIFA chose Qatar to host the 2010 World Cup, the world’s smallest nation has been dogged by accusations of corruption in the selection process and mistreatment of migrant workers who built the stadiums where many people died. Here, homosexuality is forbidden. The attention is on women’s rights and freedom of speech. In addition, the decision was made six years ago to switch the World Cup from a summer to a winter event.
Against that backdrop, a competition will be played; one that will be viewed and loved all across the world, he said in conclusion. FIFA says to stick to football. The political immorality and corruption that caused the best footballers in the world to congregate in Doha in the middle of the European winter were systematically dismantled in what came next. The BBC failed to explain why it had moved coverage of the opening ceremony, which is often a chance for host nations to project soft power abroad, to an online-only feed. One of the most well-known singers in the world, Jung Kook, sang his brand-new song in front of a crowded stadium.
A sample motivational line from the song is as follows: “Look who we are, we are the dreamers / We’ll make it happen because we believe it.” We’ve never seen a World Cup with a carbon footprint like this before, said presenter Ros Atkins as she introduced an interview with Amnesty International to BBC One viewers at the same time. Even the BBC’s former football players who were called in to analyze the game itself disproved the notion that politics should be kept out of football. Alex Scott, a former player for England, mocked Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, for implying that he might have sympathy for migrant workers and the high expense of attending the World Cup. Never will you be able to fully comprehend what it’s like to be a migrant worker. You can’t keep stating that football is for everyone. Football isn’t something that everyone should play, Scott stated.
Of course, there was an alternative to the BBC’s reporting. The Qatari government-funded English-language rolling news station Al Jazeera was available to viewers in the UK on Freeview to watch the buildup. Although the critiques were acknowledged, the event was framed in terms of Doha’s “great infrastructure advancements.”
Construction workers and the England team were shown on Al Jazeera while a voiceover remarked that had it not been for the wonderful game, these two groups of men, with their varied languages and backgrounds, could never have met. While the BBC repeatedly emphasized the deaths of migrant workers. However, football has bonded them.
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