Viewers of the first World Cup match have accused the BBC of brazen ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘virtue signalling’ as pundits launched into a segment about the multiple controversies and human rights issue in Qatar, while broadcasting live from a stadium in Doha.
Gary Lineker’s opening monologue for BBC’s introduction to the World Cup addressed the human rights record in Qatar immediately.
The controversial competition kicked off today with the host nation facing Ecuador in Group A, with the game live on the BBC.
Lineker, who recently promised to speak out on the issues while covering the tournament, got straight into the controversy before the pundits on the show went on to discuss the issues further.
He had previously been criticised, along with other football commentators and journalists, for agreeing to attend and be paid for the tournament in Qatar given its deeply conservative stance on issues such as gay rights.
Alan Shearer, Alex Scott and Ashley Williams were working as pundits and also addressed Qatar’s behaviour since being handed the tournament.
But football fans reacted with anger and said they simply wanted to watch the matches, pointing out that if the presenters were so concerned over human rights issues they could simply have refused to fly there instead.
BBC’s Gary Lineker addressed the human right’s issues in Qatar in his opening monologue at the start of the organisation’s coverage
Alex Scott slammed Infantino for his words and failure to commit to a compensation fund to families who have lost loved ones
Former England forward Alan Shearer (right) laid into FIFA for their awarding of the tournament, while Ashley Williams (left) added he felt there were ‘zero considerations for the human rights and the workers’ rights’ from FIFA
In excess of 6,500 migrant workers are said to have died while building Qatar’s football stations for the tournament, and homosexuality is still illegal and sometimes punishable by death.
The BBC team came under fire from those watching who complained they had tuned in to watch the football, not to hear a ‘political segment’.
Among those to raise criticism was Piers Morgan, who told his Twitter followers the broadcasters were ‘putting out more virtual-signalling guff’: ‘Outrageously disrespectful to Qatar that the BBC didn’t broadcast the World Cup opening ceremony, and instead put out more virtue-signalling guff about how awful it is.
‘If they’re that appalled, they should bring home their vast army of employees and spare us this absurd hypocrisy.’
One fan commented: ‘I’ve just tuned into the BBC to watch the FIFA World Cup and I appear to be getting a political broadcast.
‘Is it the same for everyone, or just my TV?’
Another fumed: ‘World Cup already a green bore fest and political advert. B****y hell.’
A third said: ‘Those BBC pundits sat around slaying the human rights of Qatar while being sat in Qatar is so bizarre.’
Lineker said at the top of the programme: ‘It’s the most controversial World Cup in recent history and a ball hasn’t even been kicked’, he said. ‘Ever since FIFA chose Qatar back in 2010, the smallest nation to host football’s greatest competition has faced some big questions.
‘From accusations of corruption in the bidding process to the treatment of migrant workers who’ve built the stadiums where many lost their lives. Homosexuality is illegal here and women’s rights are also in the spotlight. Also the decision to switch the tournament from summer to winter.
‘Against that back drop, there is a tournament to be played here that will be watched and enjoyed around the world. Stick to football say FIFA, well we will for a couple of minutes at least.’
Shearer in particular was critical of the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar: ‘Every country has its own issues including our own country, and I’m not saying we’re perfect, we’re far from it, but we were there in 2010 and we were as surprised as anyone was.
‘First of all it was announced it was a winter World Cup, air conditioned stadiums, air conditioned fan fests and all that stuff. Three months later it is announced the first game of the World Cup Is moved to today and 11 of those 22 members that had that vote for FIFA have either been sanctioned, fined or banned for life.
‘Mohammed bin Hammam from Qatar, who was the chairman of the Asian football association has been banned for life, even Sepp Blatter has recently said it was a mistake, so that’s where we are with this World Cup.’
Williams then honed in on FIFA, adding: ‘I think when they awarded Qatar the tournament there were zero considerations for the human rights and the workers’ rights and there were no considerations put in place for the building of the stadiums.
‘It’s been 10 years before we’ve seen any changes in that to improving working conditions and labour laws. The only positive is that this international tension has led to some reform. I think it only becomes sportswashing when we don’t talk about it.’
But football fans did not all agree with the BBC presenters’ stance, despite the high-profile human rights abuses which are ongoing in the host nation.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino gave a staggering speech on Saturday when he once again begged for the focus of the tournament to be on the football, and called the ‘one-sided’ criticism ‘hypocrisy’.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino gave another staggering speech on Saturday, again pleading for the focus to be on the football.
Scott slated Infantino for his words, branding the 52-year-old ‘confusing and absolutely bizarre’.
‘I’m trying to understand, you brought a World Cup here and I’m trying to understand about a culture’, she said. ‘I’m trying to understand everything – the whole context of what’s going on and what the FIFA president said yesterday is to me confusing and absolutely bizarre. How you can say ‘today I am a migrant worker’? No you are not and you never will be.
‘Yes you have moved forward and now there is a minimum wage in this country that happened in the last two years, £1 an hour, £240 a month, your salary is £1.5 million or whatever it is, you will never know what it is like to be a migrant worker and for families now who lose their loved ones just trying to make a living is absolutely bizarre.
The opening ceremony at the Al Bayt Stadium took place before kick off on Sunday afternoon
‘And for FIFA to be awarding clubs compensation of over £200million to allow their players to be playing here is absurd because you’re not even committing to a compensation fund for families.’
Several fans have criticised the organisation’s decision to focus on the issues rather than the football straight away, with many labelling Lineker and the station ‘woke’.
‘BBC going full on woke from the off. #worldcup2022qatar leave politics out of football. Hope all the virtue signallers have a lovely afternoon.’ said one user.
‘And the BBC tv woke fest has begun! Lineker was bad enough normally without an agenda to drive his wokeness!’ added another.