BBC receives 1,500 complaints over World Cup coverage that included…

World Cup 2022 briefing: Day 6

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The BBC has released a statement after an influx of complaints following Gary Lineker’s opening monologue of this year’s World Cup coverage. Some viewers found the speech to be overly critical of host nation Qatar, who have faced tough moral question over issues such as homosexuality and migrant workers. 

The likes of Lineker and Gary Neville faced criticism for jetting out to Qatar to cover the 2022 World Cup. Both claimed that it may be beneficial to address the controversies live on air rather than stay home and remain silent. 

Lineker delivered with a pre-planned monologue at the very start of the BBC’s World Cup coverage. “Ever since FIFA chose Qatar in 2010, the smallest nation to have hosted football’s greatest competition has faced some big questions,” he said.

“From accusations of corruption in the bidding process to the treatment of migrant workers who built the stadiums, where many lost their lives. Homosexuality is illegal here, women’s rights and freedom of expression are in the spotlight.

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“Also, the decision six years ago to switch the World Cup from summer to winter. Against that backdrop, there’s a tournament to be played. One that will be watched and enjoyed around the world. ‘Stick to football’, say FIFA. Well, we will, for a couple of minutes at least.”

The BBC have since revealed that just shy of 1,500 complaints flooded in following the speech, amid claims that it was too tough on Qatar. A statement from the British broadcaster acknowledged that some had taken issue with the coverage, adding that they have a ‘proven record of addressing topical issues as part of our coverage’. 

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One of the major ethical issues in Qatar has centered around the OneLove campaign, which involved seven European nations planning to wear a rainbow-coloured armband in support of LGBTQ+ rights. FIFA urged participants to adopt their own armband campaign instead, which was less explicit in its association with the LGBTQ+ community. 

England were among those who wanted to press on with the OneLove campaign regardless, although they were pressured into backing out at the last minute as FIFA threatened to punish captains with an immediate yellow card, or worse, for each match in which they wore the armband. 

“We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband,” read a joint statement. “However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.

“We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented – we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the OneLove armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response. Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways.”

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