In another ominous sign of likely trouble coming at the World Cup in Qatar, local authorities threatened on live TV to destroy the camera of a Danish camera crew reporting on the impending event.
Qatar’s World Cup organizers later issued an apology to Danish broadcaster TV2 after it said reporters were ‘wrongly interrupted’ during a live broadcast from a Doha street where angry authorities threatened Wednesday to destroy their camera after first locking the lens with your hands.
TV2 journalist Rasmus Tanholdt fired back during the police action: “Mister, you have invited the whole world to come here. Why can’t we film? It’s a public place.”
He added: “You can break the camera. Do you want to break it? Are you threatening us by smashing the camera?”
Tanholdt can be seen on camera showing the authorities the crew’s various clearance papers, but they argue with him.
Qatari officials later said in a statement, “After inspection of the tournament’s valid accreditation and crew’s filming permit, on-site security issued an apology to the broadcaster before the crew resumed their operations.” reported the Associated Press.
Tanholdt didn’t seem to be reassured by the apology and wondered if other media outlets would also be attacked for simply reporting.
“The team were told in no uncertain terms that if they didn’t stop filming, their cameras would be destroyed,” TV2 said on its website. “This is despite the TV2 team acquiring the correct credits and reporting from a public place.”
It’s unclear why the crew was cut off as Qatari officials are rushing to dismiss the confrontation as nothing more than a misunderstanding.
It is only the latest shock in the controversy surrounding the choice of Qatar in 2010 as the venue for the World Cup. The US Justice Department has accused the nation of paying massive bribes to officials at soccer’s international governing body, FIFA, to become this year’s host.
The nation had no footballing heritage when it was chosen, no stadiums that could host international-level matches, and such hot weather during the typical tournament period that soccer league schedules around the world had to be turned around to accommodate to the Qatari climate.
The more fundamental concerns involved retribution for a country with gross human rights abuses, particularly involving the migrant workers who make the nation work. Thousands of migrant workers have died in the last 10 years in Qatar, many of them in construction accidents – or due to heatstroke – on World Cup-related projects.
In other rights violations, homosexuality is illegal in the country and can be punished by death, according to Human Dignity Trust, a global LGBTQ rights advocacy group.
But public displays of affection are also frowned upon for heterosexual people, and women should dress modestly and be around husbands, not boyfriends. Women who go to the police to report sexual assault can be whipped for engaging in illegal sex, according to news reports.
Alcohol consumption will be severely restricted during the event in the majority Muslim nation, significantly impacting another aspect of the typical World Cup fan experience.
The British are so concerned about potential problems between the authorities and fans that they are sending a team of special “engagement officers” to protect citizens from overzealous police officers in Qatar.
Officials gave little comfort to fearful fans.
While “holding hands” may be permitted in public, Qatar’s ambassador to Britain, Fahad bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah, could not assure in a recent Times of London radio interview that anything more would be acceptable.
“I think one has to be aware of the norms and cultures of Qatari society,” he warned, and wrongly suggested that public displays of affection are also illegal in Britain.
Fans around the world are boycotting the event and several teams have staged protests against Qatar’s human rights abuses. The Danish team will wear black jerseys as part of their “mourning” kit for the thousands of migrant workers who have died building stadiums and other facilities for the World Cup.