BBC stars in Qatar given a 'cheat sheet' for tricky questions

BBC stars in Qatar have been given a guide for tricky questions: Presenters can use ‘cheat sheet’ to get around questions about the country’s record on human and worker rights

  • Guidance says BBC stars are not obliged to address controversies in interviews
  • The ‘World Cup Briefing’ document says they are there to focus on the football
  • But, BBC insists if stars wish to talk about the Qatari state, they are free to do so
  • Lead presenter Gary Lineker is among those who called the World Cup ‘corrupt’

Top BBC stars in Qatar have been handed a cheat sheet on how to answer tricky questions if they do not want to talk about the controversies over the country hosting the World Cup.

In guidance sent to its army of pundits, presenters and commentators, the broadcaster says it will address the controversy in its coverage, but its big names are not obliged to do so in interviews.

Instead they can use the ‘World Cup Briefing’ document to get around questions about Qatar’s record on human rights and workers’ rights by explaining that they are there to focus on the football while pointing to the BBC’s highlighting of these issues elsewhere.

Lead presenter, and BBC star, Gary Lineker is among those to have called this year’s World Cup ‘corrupt’

The BBC insists if that if any of the stars wish to talk about the Qatari state, they are free to do so.

Lead presenter Gary Lineker is among those to have called this year’s World Cup ‘corrupt’.

Sunday’s opener between Qatar and Ecuador will be shown on BBC1. The build-up intends to shine a light on the host country’s stance on same-sex relationships, women’s rights and the treatment of migrant workers.

Lineker is said to want the first programme to resemble a ‘mini-Panorama’ after working with Amnesty International to gain a greater understanding of ‘sportswashing’, the practice of using sports to improve reputations, concluding it only works if the controversy is ignored.

The build-up intends to shine a light on the host country’s stance on same-sex relationships, women’s rights and the treatment of migrant workers

Lineker is said to want the first programme to resemble a ‘mini-Panorama’ after working with Amnesty International to gain a greater understanding of ‘sportswashing’

The BBC hopes it will set the tone for their coverage of the tournament.

But any presenter wanting to avoid tackling tricky topics on air can refer to the corporation’s cheat sheet.

In the guidance document, the BBC provides a list of potential questions with examples of ways to answer them.

One question is: ‘Given the thousands of migrant deaths, do you feel conflicted about attending this World Cup at all?’

The exampled answer then reads: ‘The World Cup is happening in Qatar regardless of whether or not I attend. My role is to report on the football for the BBC where we will, of course, address topical issues relating to the tournament as part of our coverage.’

This World Cup will be played to a backdrop of controversy. Gary Neville has been heavily criticised for signing up to work for Qatari-owned beIN SPORTS, which is not available to watch in the UK. Neville insists he will still highlight the issues, regardless of his employers.

A BBC spokesman said: ‘The BBC has no role in deciding where the event should be staged, but we do have a proven record of addressing topical issues as part of our coverage, or through stories and news reports across BBC outlets. This World Cup will be no different.’

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