How Fox will cover human rights issues in Qatar during the World Cup

How Fox will cover human rights issues in Qatar during the World Cup

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In recent weeks, American TV rights holders for the upcoming World Cup have held press conferences ahead of this most unusual tournament in Qatar. In each, executives from Fox, which holds the English-language rights, and Telemundo, which holds the Spanish-language rights, were asked how they planned to cover the host country’s human rights record.

Fox’s executive producer, David Neal, said his network would not want to do “Real Sports” or “E:60,” news magazine-style shows known for tackling thorny issues off the field. “We really believe viewers will flock to us on Fox Sports to watch the World Cup,” he said.

Telemundo Deportes president Ray Warren reacted differently. He said the network’s news division and sister network NBC will cover events in Qatar, adding on the sporting side: “I think we have to talk about the legacy we’re leaving. We are at the end of the tournament [won’t have been] Ignoring the geopolitical issues that might arise.”

A spokeswoman for Comcast-owned Telemundo later said the network would follow NBC Sports’ approach to this year’s Winter Olympics in China; The host discussed the alleged Uighur genocide During coverage of the opening ceremony. The network hopes to touch on the human rights situation in Qatar Sunday as part of its opening day coverage and throughout the tournament as needed.

Different strategies from the two broadcasters responsible for bringing the World Cup to American audiences will be under scrutiny next month as Western journalists, fans and soccer players flock to Qatar, a theocratic monarchy strictly governed by Muslim laws and customs. American team Unveiling a new rainbow crest which will be displayed in his hotel in response to the law banning homosexuality in Qatar. Australia team released a video In support of the LGBTQ+ community and workers’ rights.

Top UK diplomat tells LGBT World Cup fans to be ‘respectful’ in queue

For Fox, the strategy is similar to how it handled the World Cup in Russia four years ago. But there is another dynamic in Qatar: state-owned airline Qatar Airways will serve as a major sponsor of the network’s coverage, meaning Fox’s production in Qatar is largely underwritten by the Qatari government.

In June, Neal told Sports Business Journal that Fox will send a “small army” of 150 staff and announcers to Qatar And Fox will be the first American network to have in-stadium announcers for all World Cup games, because the venues are so close.

But according to three people familiar with Fox’s plans, the network initially planned to use mostly remote production and send a minimal team of crew and talent to Qatar. The strategy changed only after the deal with Qatar Airways was finalized; That deal included comped flights to Qatar, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity to disclose private discussions.

The relationship between the airline and the network dates back to last year, when Qatar Airways Announced a partnership with Concacaf and was primary sponsor For Fox’s Gold Cup coverage, With signage on its studio set.

A Telemundo spokesperson said Qatar Airways is not a sponsor of its coverage.

The Qataris hope to use the World Cup to showcase their country to a wider global audience. An important part of that is American broadcasters in the country, said two people who have been told about the deal. They Fox executives described the deal as a celebration because the network could deliver more powerful broadcasts to viewers without having to pay for it.

There is Fox Unveiling a spacious studio Doha Waterfront has four stages and more than 20 LED screens.

In a statement, Fox said: “Qatar Airways is a major sponsor of FIFA World Cup 2022 and will have a significant presence throughout our coverage of the tournament. They, along with our portfolio of blue-chip sponsors, offer unparalleled coverage of what is arguably one of the best World Cups ever, along with the long-awaited return of the U.S. Men’s National Team.”

Asked if Qatar Airways’ sponsorship had any effect on its coverage, a Fox spokesperson said, “Absolutely not.”

After this story was published, a Fox spokesperson sent an additional statement to the Post, denying the network’s deal with Qatar Airways included comped flights.

Today’s Worldview: Political controversy surrounds Qatar World Cup

The change in schedule from the usual summer World Cup was made to accommodate the sweltering heat in Qatar and would be a headache for any American broadcaster. Instead of sharing the summer with baseball alone, the tournament will compete with the NFL and college football for viewers. Fox reportedly paid more than $400 million For four men’s and women’s World Cups between 2015 and 2023. Telemundo is reportedly paying about $600 million.

How the tournament is covered – and how the Qataris react to that coverage – will be closely watched. Qatar in 11th hour decision The sale of alcohol is prohibited on the opposite course and in the stadium. It was a leading story for many news outlets Friday morning and was mentioned in the latest news section of Telemundo Deportes’ website, but not on Fox Sports. Danish cameraman this week before the start of the tournament Caught a run-in with Qatari officials who threatened to break his camera for filming a live report in a public place.

athletic Published a piece this week Soccer editor Alex K-Jelski details his mixed feelings as a gay man and a sports journalist about covering the tournament.

“Something [reporters] will write about great games and goals, others will break stories about line-ups or fallouts,” he wrote. “But many will also focus on what’s happening off the pitch, some LGBT+ fans having to stay in safe houses, families of workers who died building stadiums, On the absurd politics that brought the tournament to Qatar. , on the reality of the lives of the women who live there, and yet the circus has to pack up and leave.”

Qatar Airways has been a visible brand in international football for years. The club was previously the front jersey sponsor for Spanish powerhouse Barcelona from 2013 to 2017. terminated the contract for “social problems”. Today, Qatar Airways is the jersey sponsor of Bayern Munich in Germany, although club members have pressured the directors not to renew the contract when it expires in 2023.

At the party’s annual general meeting last month, party chief executive Oliver Kahn, said: “There has been progress on labor rights and human rights in Qatar. No one has suggested that Qatar is a country that meets European standards. But if you want to change and start something, you have to meet people, talk to them and exchange ideas without them.”

Steven Goff contributed to this report.

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