Despite the Criticism and Double Standards, Western Media and Influencers Defended Qatar’s Organization of the World Cup
“Western criticism of the decision to award the games to Qatar smacks of blind prejudice.”
Over the past period, Western media coverage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar has been dominated by the controversy surrounding the event rather than the sport itself.
The BBC refrained from broadcasting the opening ceremony on television, choosing instead to cover criticism of the host country, while the Wall Street Journal published a report under the title Qatar begins the World Cup with defeat and empty seats.
Meanwhile, The Independent published a picture of the stands during the halftime break, claiming that thousands of Qatar fans left the World Cup opener after the first half.
However, some Western media, activists, and influencers did not remain silent and spoke out against the alleged Western stereotypes and prejudices.
The Economist and The New York Times published articles defending Qatar’s right to host the tournament, while The Times of London published an article saying that criticism of Qatar was laced with hypocrisy.
Critics of Western media coverage of Qatar countered that other countries with questionable human rights records had not been subjected to such scrutiny when hosting world sporting events.
Prominent media professionals and activists also sharply criticized the Western media under the hashtag #QATAR2022, accusing it of hypocrisy, racism, and Islamophobia due to the campaign he is launching against Qatar after it hosted the 2022 World Cup.
Sports analyst and former English player Gary Lineker criticized the BBC’s neglect of human rights issues in Russia during the 2018 World Cup, coinciding with its focus on the same file during the Qatar 2022 World Cup, according to The New York Times in its report on November 23, 2022.
The newspaper pointed out that the former England national team player considered that the BBC should have talked more about Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, and its record in the field of human rights, when the country hosted the World Cup in 2018.
“BBC sports presenters discussed human rights issues in Qatar during its coverage of the opening match of the tournament,” according to the newspaper.
In turn, the American broadcaster of Egyptian origin, Ayman Mohyeldin, criticized the BBC for not broadcasting the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Qatar, although it broadcast, only 9 months ago, the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in China, a country literally accused of committing genocide.
Mohyeldin, MSNBC host, also commented in an article about the Western attack against Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup, saying: “Recent coverage of Qatar shows the depths of Western prejudice, performative moral outrage and, perhaps most significantly, gross double standards.”
He asked, “Is this truly about human rights, or is it that Western pundits can’t stomach the idea that an Arab Middle East country will host the World Cup?”
He added, “It is clear that the human rights records of the United States and Mexico were also not discussed when FIFA awarded them the 2026 World Cup!!”
Meanwhile, a blogger named DaudKP described the BBC’s coverage of the opening of the World Cup in Qatar as “classically ‘orientalist’ in nature.”
In this regard, The Economist magazine defended, in its editorial on November 17, 2022, Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup finals, and said that it is the best place for a major sporting event than a number of hosts before.
The magazine saw that the world looks at migrant workers in Qatar through a distorted lens, stressing that Qatar is more open to foreign labor than America or any European country.
It added that the opportunity to host the World Cup improved Qatar’s labor laws, while China’s hosting of the Olympic Games twice did not make it more democratic.
It also brought back memories of the Argentine military junta that hosted the 1978 World Cup throwing critics out of helicopters.
It continued: “The Western criticism of the decision to award the hosting of the Games to Qatar reflects a blind prejudice, as it seems that many disaffected critics simply do not like Muslims or the rich.”
The newspaper concluded by saying: “The Middle East is full of football lovers, but it has not hosted the event before, nor any Muslim country, and the decision to hold the World Cup in Qatar was a very good choice.”
In turn, The Times of London said in its editorial on November 21, 2022, that “the time has come to stop demonizing the host country for the World Cup matches (Qatar), and focus on the beautiful game.”
The newspaper considered that “Qatar’s prohibition of same-sex relations, as well as sexual relations outside the institution of marriage, is an affront to Western values, although trials of people for violating laws are rare.”
“However, there are many countries that have the same laws, without being a reason to prevent them from organizing international sports matches (including England, which organized the 1966 World Cup finals),” it added.
The newspaper explained that Qatar is not far from the world, nor is its record of human rights violations that have been fabricated, and it is certainly a more open country than Russia, which organized the 2018 World Cup, or China, which organized the Winter Olympics in February 2022.
The newspaper noted that “since Qatar obtained the right to organize matches 12 years ago, it has come under the eyes and ears of the world, which forced it to strengthen labor laws and their rights. However, the time to express disapproval was 12 years ago, and that moment has long since passed.”
Perhaps the most recent action that took place in the World Cup matches in Qatar so far was what the German national team did before the start of its match with the Japanese national team on November 23, 2022.
Germany’s players protested against being banned from wearing the gay support badge by placing their hands over their mouths in reference to the repression of freedom of expression.
It is noteworthy that the leaders of 7 European teams had decided to wear the armbands as part of a campaign to reject discrimination during the World Cup matches in Qatar.
However, with the start of the tournament, the teams of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland announced in a statement that they had changed their decision.
Players in all teams were prevented from wearing that armband, after the International Football Association Board (FIFA) imposed sanctions on players who would wear the “OneLove” armband in support of homosexuality in the Qatar World Cup, threatening to punish those who wear it with a yellow card at the start of the match.
Tweeters described the German national team’s clip as offensive and inappropriate, and that the decision to ban the badge was a lesson to stop abhorrent Western arrogance.
Commentators called on FIFA to take action against the German national team, stressing that this is an area for playing football and not for passing a political, partisan, or factional agenda.
In turn, the German Football Association issued a statement, saying that what its players did is “not a political position,” adding that human rights are not negotiable, and banning the armband is comparable to banning their right to expression.
On her part, the German Minister of the Interior, Nancy Faeser, attended the stands of Khalifa International Stadium, where the match took place, wearing the homosexual support badge.
She published the picture on her Twitter account and commented on it with the campaign hashtag in reference to her support for it.
A tweet commented on what the German minister did, saying: “Great, as you’re the German Minister of Interior. You just sent a simple message saying: visitors don’t have to respect the German internal rules while visiting Germany!”
While another tweet indicated that the job of the minister of the interior in Germany is to abide by the law and to make sure that everyone in it or coming to it respects and adheres to it, adding that “being diplomatic and disrespecting or breaking the law of the host country is just a shameful act and just a show.”
“Germany deserved that for being so obsessed with rainbow armbands and politics,” one fan wrote.
Another said: “Don’t get sidetracked by the ‘politics’ and just play your football. All these needless virtue signaling isn’t helping you win. Germany should’ve won this.”
Others claimed that Germany had let politics get to its head, while one fan insisted that Germany needed to respect Qatar’s culture, and wrote on Twitter: “You Germans deserve this for your stupid virtue signaling, respect Qatar’s culture and keep your stupid politics out of football.”
In turn, a blogger named Saad Alkhrousi recalled the case of German player Mesut Ozil, who was banned from playing with his country’s national team after he spoke about the issue of the genocide of Muslims in China, adding that “today, the same federation and the national team come to give us a lesson in law.”