Television teams will be banned from filming in certain zones throughout the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.  British newspaper The Observer is claiming that the Qatar government has restricted housing neighborhoods of migrant workers in the Middle Eastern country.  Instead, these crews, which include BBC and ITV in England, are only allowed to film in three locations around the city of Doha.

The two aforementioned British television networks currently have dual rights to broadcast the 2022 World Cup in the United Kingdom.

Public places of the Corniche waterfront promenade, the Towers area, and the West Bay area will be the only portions of the city where these camera crews may record.  

Qatar censor World Cup broadcasters: What next?

Along with the accommodation sites of migrant workers, filming in or near government buildings, hospitals, places of worship, and universities are all also prohibited by the local government.

Any company traveling to Qatar to record during the World Cup must agree to these terms when applying for a special permit.  According to The Guardian, this permit essentially allows crews to “capture photography and videography of the most popular locations around the country.”

Still photographers must also agree and secure a permit as well.  However, print journalists without a camera do not need to apply to the country’s supreme committee for the license.

FIFA previously stated that they were “working with the supreme committee and relevant organizations in Qatar to ensure the best possible working conditions for media attending the tournament, as well as ensuring that broadcasters continue to report freely without any restrictions.”

Qatar has had a history of issues with foreign journalists in previous years.  In 2015, a few BBC reporters were arrested and spent multiple nights in jail while covering the migrant work crisis in Doha.

Norwegian journalists were also arrested last November for similar reporting.  The duo remained in jail for a reported 36 hours before they were eventually released.

BBC and ITV will not shy away

Representatives with BBC and ITV have both declared that their reporting will not change for the Qatar World Cup.  A spokesperson for BBC recently said that the broadcasting company has a “proven record of addressing topical issues as part of our coverage.  This World Cup will be no different.”

Similarly, ITV has stated that their “World Cup tournament coverage will focus on the football, but will not shy away from the controversies off the pitch.”

Meanwhile, US broadcaster FOX Sports don’t have to worry about censorship. They’re leaving “off the field” stories to other news organizations. However, that’s despite FOX Sports having two news crews traveling through Qatar to capture “the flavor of the country.”

Instead of reporting on human rights abuses and lack of freedoms, FOX Sports are planning on airing puff pieces about camel racing, the Doha skyline and falconry.

Photo credit: IMAGO / Joerg Boethling

Guide to World Cup 2022

Here are some resources to help you get the most out of the biggest event in soccer!
TV Schedule: All the info on where and when to watch every game
The Groups: We breakdown each group and all the teams
The Kits: Check out what every team will be wearing on the field this fall
Predictor: Play out every scenario with our World Cup Predictor
World Cup Bracket: Map out the entire tournament, from the groups to the final