US viewers accuse Fox Sports of being ‘shillings for Qatar’ amid torrid World Cup coverage | World Cup 2022
US viewers have criticized Fox Sports after its coverage of the opening day of the World Cup ignored the host country’s human rights record
Qatar has been attacked for its treatment of migrant workers, allegations of corruption in the tournament bid process and its record on LGBTQ and women’s rights. Broadcasters such as the BBC and Telemundo chose to highlight these concerns in their coverage of the first day of the tournament, which saw the hosts lose to Ecuador after a lavish opening ceremony featuring contributions from BTS’ Morgan Freeman and Jungkook.
In contrast, Fox praised everything from the air conditioning at Al Bayt Stadium to the food choices for fans and the “very welcoming” general secretary of the Qatar World Cup committee, Hassan Al-Thawadi. A Puff piece with Al-Thawadi followed in which he was allowed to speak glowingly about the World Cup, without questions from interviewer Jenny Taft about concerns from journalists and human rights groups.
Roger Bennett, the influential co-host of the Men In Blazers podcast, posted a clip of the BBC’s coverage and wrote: “This is how the BBC opened coverage of the 2022 World Cup. Stark contrast to Fox’s coverage in the United States. Please take a minute to watch. That’s how this World Cup should be contextualized.”
Also Grant Wahl, probably the most prominent football journalist in the USA tweeted a link on the BBC’s opening day coverage, writing: “Great contrast between coverage of Fox Sports in the United States joining the Qatar regime and coverage of the UK rights holder.”
Other viewers on Twitter asked Fox to do so “Calm down on the propaganda” and stop “Shillings for Qatar”.
Ahead of the World Cup, Fox executive producer David Neal said he didn’t think viewers would want to be distracted by off-field issues during the tournament.
“We really believe that because of the World Cup, viewers will come to Fox Sports to see the World Cup,” he said. Qatar Airways, the country’s flag carrier, is a major sponsor of Fox’s World Cup coverage.
In contrast, Telemundo, which owns the Spanish-language broadcast rights to the US World Cup, said it intends to pursue a stronger line than Fox.
“I think we need to talk about the legacy we’re leaving behind. When the tournament is over, we [won’t have been] Ignoring the geopolitical issues that may arise,” said Ray Warren, President of Telemundo Deportes.
The US team made a conspicuous, if subtle, statement of their views at the World Cup. They prominently displayed a rainbow logo at the team’s training facility in a country where homosexuality is illegal.
“We want to draw attention to social issues not only in the United States, but also abroad,” US head coach Gregg Berhalter said this week. “We recognize that Qatar has made progress and there has been a lot of progress, but there is still work to be done.”
Comments are closed.