Football’s most esteemed TV pundit Gary Lineker has been accused of being involved in “racist” broadcasting at the World Cup in Qatar.
World Cup boss Hassan Thawadi on Wednesday launched an astonishing attack on the entire BBC, criticising how the network has presented the World Cup host nation.
Al-Thawadi, the head of the committee for delivery and legacy, had earlier admitted as many 500 workmen died during preparations for the tournament.
However, he turned a blowtorch back on his country’s critics in a radio interview just hours after his shock admissions in an earlier interview with Piers Morgan.
In an interview with talkSPORT, Al-Thawadi said a three-minute monologue given by Lineker when introducing the tournament last week showed prejudice and “elitism” after no such monologue or criticism was directed towards Russia before the 2018 World Cup.
Lineker grandstanded with a passionate attack on Qatar over the country’s human rights abuses and its treatment of the LGBTQ+ community.
“The reality is, a lot of the coverage, the way the BBC covered the opening ceremony, the way Gary Lineker took three minutes (criticising Qatar), they never bothered to do that with any other tournament,” he said.
“They never bothered to listen to the other side, or at least present a balanced view to be able to sit down and move forward so there are definitely agendas that are presented very clearly that are beyond football.”
The government official also criticised comments from Jurgen Klinsmann after the German legend made controversial comments about Iran when speaking as an expert analyst for the BBC in Qatar.
Klinsmann, a member of FIFA’s seven-member technical study group that is analysing the World Cup in Qatar, took aim at Iran’s antics following their 2-0 Group B win against Wales on Friday.
The former USA coach said a series of niggling fouls and the conduct of the Iranian coaching staff during the game was part of a deliberate strategy to make opponents “lose their focus”.
“This is not by coincidence. This is all purposely. This is part of their culture, that’s how they play it,” Klinsmann said while working as a studio analyst for the BBC.
“They work the referee — you saw the bench always jumping off and working the linesman and the fourth referee on the sideline.
“Constantly in their ears, constantly in your face on the field… this is their culture.
“They make you lose their focus, make you lose your concentration and what’s really important to you.”
Klinsmann’s remarks drew a furious response from Iran’s football federation and Queiroz, who branded the German World Cup winner’s remarks a “disgrace to football.”
Al-Thawadi also called for action to be taken against Klinsmann.
He said: “Unfortunately, I’ve seen some of the coverage that seems to be kind of pushing towards that stereotype of the Middle East. I’ll give an example: the Iran-Wales game. Iran played very good, would you say so? They were the better team, up until the 95th or 96th minute, right?
“Yet the coverage, for example, on BBC by Jurgen Klinsmann talking about how it’s part of their culture, and reflecting the players in a way that was, I hate using the word, very, very elitist, very orientalist, very racist to a certain extent.
“When looking at what was happening and you’re saying, ‘That’s part of their culture’, what do you mean by that? Was it misunderstood or was it a reflection he was representing a culture in a very negative way?”
Thawadi also said he was disappointed that Lineker did not “bother to engage” with the organisers before the start of the tournament. He said: “We reached out many times. In February, we reached out over three or four times, specifically requesting to engage with Gary, to sit down and say, ‘We understand your position. Give us the opportunity to put our case in front. At least hear us out. If you don’t agree then, that’s fine, that’s your decision, and that’s your judgment’. But we never got the chance. There was never the desire to listen to our part of the story.”
Lineker has denied he was ever invited to meet with Qatar officials in the lead up to the tournament.
The former English striker has continued to speak out with criticism over revelations fans have been prohibited from wearing rainbow colours inside stadiums while FIFA banned players from wearing rainbow-coloured captain’s armbands.