In yet another disturbing sign of possible trouble to come at the World Cup in Qatar, local authorities threatened live TV to break a Danish TV news camera reporting on the upcoming event’s crew.
Qatar World Cup organizers later issued an apology to Danish broadcaster TV2 after journalists were “wrongfully interrupted” during a live broadcast from the streets of Doha where angry organizers on Wednesday threatened to destroy their camera after first blocking the lens with their hands.
TV2 reporter Rasmus Tanholdt fired back at the police action: “Mister, you invited the whole world here. Why can’t we drive? It is a public place. ”
He added: “You can break the camera. Do you want to break? Are you threatening us by smashing the camera?”
Tanholdt can be seen on camera presenting the authorities with various license plates, but they argue with him.
Later, Qatari officials said in a statement: “In view of the strong crowd’s accreditation of the tournament and the filming permit, an apology was made to the on-site radio security before the crowd resumed its activity,” The Associated Press reported.
Tanholdt doesn’t seem comforted by the apology and wonders if other media outlets are being attacked just as simply for reporting it.
“The team bluntly said that if they didn’t stop filming, they would destroy their cameras,” TV2 said on its website. “This is despite the fact that the TV2 team has properly acquired accreditations and reported on the public website.”
It was unclear why the Qatari crowd was interrupted by police rushing to mark the crash as nothing more than a mistake.
It’s just the latest blow in the controversy over Qatar’s problematic choice in 2010 to host the World Cup. The US Department of Justice has accused the nation of paying large sums of money to officials of international soccer’s governing body, FIFA, to become this year’s host.
The soccer nation had no legacy when it was elected, no stadiums that could host international standards and weather so hot during its own tournament season that soccer schedules around the world decided to adjust to Qatar’s season.
The most basic concern involves awarding the country with egregious human rights violations, especially for migrant workers who run the country. Thousands of migrant workers have died in Qatar in the last 10 years, many of them in construction accidents — or from heat exhaustion — in projects connected to the World Cup.
Among other rights violations, homosexuality is illegal in the country and punishable by death, according to the Human Dignity Trust, a global advocacy group for LGBTQ rights.
But public displays of affection are discouraged even for heterosexual men, and women are expected to dress modestly and be in the company of men, not their boyfriends. Women who go to the police to report sexual violence can be beaten for illegal sexual assault, according to news reports.
Alcohol consumption will be heavily restricted at the event in the Muslim-majority nation, yet significantly affect another aspect of the typical World Cup fan experience.
The British are so worried about potential problems between the authorities and the fans that they send a group of special “security officers” to protect citizens from the overly vigilant police officers in Qatar.
Officials gave little consolation to nervous fans.
Although “holding hands” may be allowed in public, Qatar’s ambassador to Britain, Fahad bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah, could not guarantee that it would be something acceptable on the radio in London in the near future.
“I think it’s important to remember the norms and the culture of Qatari society,” he warned, wrongly suggesting that public sentiments are also illegal in Britain.
Fans around the world simultaneously announced a boycott of the event, and several teams organized protests against Qatar’s human rights abuses. The Danish team will wear black jerseys as part of a “mourning” uniform for the thousands of migrant workers who died building stadiums and other World facilities for the World Cup.