UK press target Qatar in World Cup inauguration coverage

Photo: Ihsan Iqbal/Maktoob

As the global football carnival began in Qatar on Sunday, the UK press, which has been after the small Arab nation since it got the hosting rights for FIFA World Cup 2022, made sure they highlighted all the flaws in the opening ceremony.

“Qatar World Cup defeat proves there are some things in sport you can’t pay for,” read the headline of The Independent, reporting the opening match where the host made a poor performance against Ecuador, losing 2-0.

The Guardian’s report, “World Cup opening ceremony: six things we learned in Qatar” makes a slew of unpleasant commentary.

Qatar still trying to sell itself as inclusive; Everybody got their own song; Russia still made a mark, despite their ban; Jungkook of BTS has not started his military service yet, Emir claimed World Cup would celebrate diversity; Fifa president Gianni Infantino kept quiet – until the last moment — these were the takeaways of The Guardian.

British public broadcaster BBC was also got criticised for not airing the Qatar World Cup 2022 opening ceremony on its main coverage programme.

“It was shown live in its entirety on @BBCiPlayer, BBC Sport website and red button. The timing of the opening ceremony was changed to an earlier time very recently and WSL was already confirmed on @bbcone. If you wanted to watch it, you could,” BBC host Gary Lineker tweeted.

The BBC relegated coverage of the opening ceremony at Qatar’s Al Bayt stadium on Sunday to its online iPlayer app and its sports website.

Qatar has been pushing back at the critical media coverage through their international media outlet Al Jazeera, trying to create a counter-narrative.

But while the scrutiny of foreign governments and the media stings, increased visibility is precisely why Qatar wanted the tournament.