Sports fans, lawmakers, and journalists have criticised the BBC over their choice to not broadcast the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Qatar live.
On Sunday, the World Cup began in Qatar, a Muslim country that has come under fire for how it treats foreign employees and has social restrictions against LGBT rights. Qatar is betting its reputation on hosting a successful World Cup.
The ceremony’s highlights included a performance of the American actor Morgan Freeman and the new tournament song Dreamers, which featured Qatari singer Fahad Al-Kubaisi and vocalist Jungkook of the K-pop boy band BTS.
The Match of the Day host Gary Lineker greeted 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 even been kicked,” according to The Guardian.
The BBC’s decision was criticised by British columnist Piers Morgan as being “outrageously insulting.”
He remarked, “If they’re that horrified, they should bring home their huge army of workers and save us this ludicrous hypocrisy.
The journalist Ayman Mohyeldin expressed a similar opinion. “The BBC boycotted Qatar’s World Cup opening ceremony. He called it the “epitome of hypocrisy and double standards” and noted that the BBC had just broadcast the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in China nine months prior.
Sports enthusiasts were similarly unimpressed by the choice at the time. The UK’s football enthusiasts were reportedly “stunned,” according to a story by The Sun.
A fan was quoted in the article as saying, “I have never known the BBC to not air an opening ceremony before,” while another described it as “an absolute joke.”