Fans enraged by BBC snub of Qatar’s World Cup 2022 opening ceremony
Football fans blasted the BBC for not showing the 2022 World Cup opening ceremony in Qatar on Sunday.
The glitzy ceremony included passages from the Quran and had Hollywood superstar Morgan Freeman, BTS K-pop star Jungkook, and other performers.
Although some parts of the ceremony was shown on the BBC's red button service and online, it was not on the BBC's flagship terrestrial channel. Instead, they showed a package documenting the allegations about Qatar’s human rights record.
It left UK viewers outraged over the snub with many highlighting the hypocrisy of showing the opening ceremonies from sporting events hosted by other countries accused of human rights abuses in the past.
"The BBC didn’t air Qatars World Cup opening ceremony in protest. Yet just 9 months ago, the BBC aired the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in China, a country literally accused of committing genocide," said journalist Ayman Mohyeldin. "GTOH with your sanctimony. The epitome of hypocrisy and double standards!"
Media Spokesperson for Muslim Council of Britain, Miqdad Versi, said: "Given the BBC's neutrality, which objective principles are the basis for this decision? And how were such principles applied for the Winter Olympics in China (hundreds of thousands of Muslims interned in camps)? Or F1 in Bahrain? "
Piers Morgan, who just last week lashed out at the criticism Qatar has received, said: "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," tweeted journalist Piers Morgan. "If they’re that appalled, they should bring home their vast army of employees & spare us this absurd hypocrisy."
"The most controversial World Cup"?
"It’s the most controversial World Cup in history and a ball hasn’t even been kicked," said host Gary Lineker at the start of the BBC's coverage.
Lineker sought to explain the broadcaster's decisions after the backlash: "In case you missed it, here’s the opening ceremony. It’s not customary for us to show any World Cup or Euros opening ceremonies in their entirety on @bbcone, but do make it available to view on @BBCiPlayer , red button and website. Very different, of course, for the Olympics," he said on Twitter.
His explanation did not quell the criticism though as social media users shared clips of what people were missing out on.
"Is this the sort of thing from the opening ceremony that the BBC didn’t want people to see? Beautiful quotes from the Qur’an?," said author and Islamic law scholar Fatima Barkatulla.
Alex Macheras tweeted: "Surprised to discover that in the UK the BBC decided not to broadcast the Opening Ceremony of the first ever World Cup in the Arab world?! There were some incredible moments, such as this #Qatar2022."
"Such a shame the BBC decided not to broadcast the opening ceremony, and instead bury it deep within iPlayer. Some good messages about tolerance and respecting each other. Also I'm getting tired of their 'holier than thou' attitude. Hypocrites much?," said another tweeter.
Qatar, the first Arab and Muslim nation to hold the World Cup, has come under criticism for its human rights record, especially the treatment of its migrant workers.
On the eve of the tournament, FIFA president Gianni Infantino accused the West of racism and hypocrisy over its criticism of Qatar.
About the mistreatment of migrants in Qatar, Infantino reminded the hostile environment migrants face in Europe, especially the indifference around the deaths of migrants who try and make it to the continent.
Meanwhile, on the backlash about the alcohol ban in stadiums, Infantino highlighted similar bans in countries like France, Spain, Portugal and Scotland.