The British public service broadcaster has been criticized for choosing not to broadcast the opening ceremony of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar as part of its main coverage.
The BBC downgraded coverage of Sunday’s opening ceremony to secondary streaming, including its “red button” service, online iPlayer app and sports website.
Viewers of BBC One’s flagship coverage, however, were unable to catch the inclusivity-themed spectacle at Al Khor’s Al-Bayt Stadium and missed out on BTS star Jungkook and Qatari singer Fahad al-Qubais.
Russia had already annexed Crimea and occupied eastern Ukraine when it hosted the World Cup in 2018. The BBC had zero criticism of it at the time, and the opening was broadcast in its entirety. However, the BBC chose to lecture us sanctimoniously today. shameful.
— Mohammad Jalal (@jalalayn) November 20, 2022
Morgan Freeman, who narrated the ceremony, showed up at the stadium to shake hands with a FIFA World Cup ambassador who suffers from a rare spinal disorder, in a photo meant to represent inclusivity in a country that has faced criticism for its human rights record.
Jung Kook at #Qatar2022 Opening ceremony! 🎶#dreamers2022 | @bts_bighit
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) November 20, 2022
BBC One has been broadcasting the Women’s Super League match between Chelsea and Tottenham, which ended after the opening ceremony. The BBC’s social media team also released a four-minute Instagram video around the same time looking back at the 1982 Gay Games organized by former Olympians to highlight homophobia in sport.
When the channel switched to a show broadcast from Qatar, hosts Gary Lineker, Alex Scott and Alex Shearer discussed the allegations against the host nation.
“This is the most controversial World Cup in history, not even a single goal has been kicked,” said former England captain Gary Lineker in his opening monologue.
“Since FIFA selected Qatar in 2010, the smallest country that has hosted football’s biggest tournament has faced some major problems. From allegations of corruption in the bidding process to the treatment of migrant workers who build stadiums, many have lost their lives .”
Is this something the BBC didn’t want people to see in the opening ceremony? Beautiful quotes from the Qur’an?#Qatar2022 pic.twitter.com/nAY300r2Un
– 𝐹𝒶𝓉𝒾𝓂𝒶𝐵𝒶𝓇𝓀𝒶𝓉𝓊𝓁𝓁𝒶 (@FatimaBarkatula) November 20, 2022
“Homosexuality is illegal here, women’s rights and free speech are in focus. Also the decision to switch the World Cup from summer to winter six years ago.
“In this context, there is a game to be played, a game that the whole world will watch and enjoy. Stick to football, like FIFA, well, we will, at least for a few minutes.”
Surprised to learn that in the UK, the BBC decided not to broadcast the opening ceremony of the first ever World Cup in the Arab world? ! There are some incredible moments like this one 👇🏽 #Qatar2022 pic.twitter.com/90NNykYn0V
— Alex Macchelas (@AlexInAir) November 20, 2022
In the 12 years since winning the right to host the Middle East’s first World Cup, Qatar has reformed its labor laws, including scrapping the much-criticized kafala system and an exit permit system abused by unscrupulous employers. Qatar has also introduced a minimum wage and new rules on hot work as part of 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 Qatar welcomes all fans regardless of their sexual orientation.
Public displays of affection are frowned upon in Qatar’s conservative society, and not just between LGBTQ couples.
A BBC spokesman told Al Jazeera: “The BBC has provided the full build and coverage of the World Cup, including the opening ceremony on iPlayer.”
BBC presenter Gary Lineker hit back at critics, saying it was all a matter of timing and logistics, tweeting: “It’s on @BBCiPlayer, BBC Sport website and red button.The time of the opening ceremony was recently changed to an earlier time, WSL has confirmed @bbcone. If you want to watch it, you can. “
The opening and opening ceremonies of the World Cup came a day earlier than originally planned by FIFA, which announced the move more than three months ago in August.