FOX Sports are putting on a show at World Cup 2022. It’s a show that disguises the truth, and instead focuses its priorities on keeping sponsors and FIFA happy.
As the exclusive English-language rights holder to the competition, FOX’s lead executive for its coverage was asked Thursday whether the broadcaster will discuss the human rights abuses and lack of freedom in Qatar.
“Our stance is if it affects what happens on the field of play, we will cover it and cover it fully,” David Neal, executive producer of Fox’s World Cup coverage. “But if it does not, if it is ancillary to the story of the tournament, there are plenty of other entities and outlets out there that are going to cover that. We firmly believe the viewers come to us to see what happens on the field, on the pitch.”
The truth about World Cup 2022
Viewers may be tuning in to watch the games themselves, but FOX Sports are putting on a show that will try to paint Qatar and FIFA in a positive light.
Instead of being honest with its viewers and discussing the topics of human rights abuses and lack of freedoms that have been fused into any discussion of Qatar 2022, FOX Sports are running scared.
FOX Sports are scared of upsetting Qatar Airways, one of the broadcaster’s major sponsors during the entire tournament. Qatar Airways are pouring money into FOX’s pockets.
Additionally, FOX Sports are afraid to speak up and be honest with viewers in case they upset the FIFA cartel. With FIFA hosting World Cup 2026 in North America, FOX want to be in lockstep with FIFA.
The truth is that FOX Sports don’t want you to know what’s happening in Qatar. “Hey, watch the game.” And don’t talk about:
• 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since the World Cup was awarded,
• LGBTQ rights are repressed in the country, with same-sex relations punishable to up to 7 years in prison,
• Qatar’s emir thanking Vladimir Putin to help organize Qatar 2022.
FOX hides truth at World Cup
FOX executive producer David Neal’s statement that “there are plenty of other entities and outlets out there that are going to cover that” is deplorable. As the exclusive English-language rights holder, FOX Sports has a duty to inform the public instead of hiding behind the “it it happens on the field, we’ll cover it” stance.
What makes matters worse is that FOX Sports have already made plans to produce puff pieces to paint Qatar in a positive light.
Here’s what Kevin Callahan, VP, Field Operations and Engineering at FOX Sports, said recently in an interview with Sports Video Group two weeks ago when discussing what footage to expect:
“We want to make sure that we’re showing off everything that Qatar is, whether it’s the Sealine Beach where the desert meets the ocean, the modern skyline of Doha itself, the financial center that is Qatar, or falconry or camel racing.”
FOX’s policy of obfuscating the truth is similar to what happened at Russia 2018. For instance, FOX Sports ran a segment about Josef Stalin’s summer home, with a voiceover positioning it as “Think what you will about Josef Stalin, but there’s no denying that this was one of the formidable figures in all of history.”
Reaction from other broadcasters
Critics may argue that every World Cup broadcaster is doing the same thing as FOX Sports.
That isn’t true.
In April, when I asked Telemundo Deportes President Ray Warren about its coverage of the World Cup and whether his organization would discuss the human rights abuses, his answer was “We’re not a news organization, we’re a sports organization… we go wherever the World Cup is played.”
Months later, I asked the same question again. Warren’s stance had changed. Here’s what he said:
“We’ll probably take a cue from NBC Sports and their handling of the Beijing Winter Games. There was a pretty strong opening comment at the opening ceremony. And at the end of it, it was ‘let’s honor the athletes, let’s honor the fans, let’s watch some Olympics.’
“That’s probably going to be our way of addressing it.”
Soccer fans deserve better
FOX Sports’ decision to hide the truth from viewers is disappointing especially when the broadcaster has TV crews in the country.
“We have two crews that are just dedicated to capturing news of the day and flavor of the country,” said Callahan.
FOX’s plans for coverage of World Cup 2022 sound like they’re going to be an infomercial for Qatar, paid for by Qatar Airways.
As FOX Sports’ lead studio analyst for its coverage of the World Cup says in the video below, “This (hosting a World Cup) is often used as an advertisement (by the host country). And more so then what Qatar is showing itself in what they are, but also what they want to be.”
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