Qatar World Cup chief SLAMS Gary Lineker and labels BBC coverage of tournament 'racist'

The Qatar World Cup chief has slammed Gary Lineker and labelled the BBC's coverage of the tournament 'racist'
The Qatar World Cup chief has slammed Gary Lineker and labelled the BBC's coverage of the tournament 'racist'

Hassan Al-Thawadi said the BBC’s coverage had been racist and claimed both Gary Lineker and Roy Keane neglected proposals for them to meet with organisers

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Qatar’s World Cup chief has hit out at Gary Lineker and accused the football pundit of showing prejudice against the host nation.

Hassan Al-Thawadi said the BBC’s coverage had been racist and claimed both Lineker and Roy Keane neglected proposals for them to meet with organisers ahead of the tournament.

The country has faced heavy criticism in the run up to the tournament for their human rights laws including the criminalisation of same-sex relationships and employment rights for those who worked on building the stadiums.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino (left) and Hassan Al Thawadi.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino (left) and Hassan Al Thawadi.

Al-Thawadi said that organisers had attempted to open a dialogue with Lineker a number of times in an attempt to put their “case in front”.

He continued: “We never got the chance. I was disappointed there was never the desire to listen to our part of the story. The most important element about this is breaking down misconceptions and stereotypes that people have, which means they need to engage.

“The reason is because it is a platform that gives you the opportunity to engage. People like Roy and Gary, or whoever else, there was no engagement.”

He added that growing up he had “looked up” to Lineker which meant “it was very disappointing that he never bothered to engage. We reached out many times. We reached out, 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 forward our case in front, at least hear us out. If you don’t agree with us then, that’s fine that’s your decision and that’s your judgement’

“But we never got the chance, there was never a desire to listen to our part of the story”, he told TalkSport.

Responding to the claims from Mr Al-Thawadi, Lineker tweeted: “Well, this is news to me. Neither my agent nor myself received any request to engage with anyone involved with Qatar 2022. I have my weaknesses, but I’m not that rude. Very odd.”

He followed it up later in the day responding to his initial tweet and saying: “If you’d really like to chat, Hassan, would you be happy to speak with me on BBC?”

Al-Thawadi said that organisers had attempted to open a dialogue with Lineker a number of times in an attempt to put their “case in front”.
Al-Thawadi said that organisers had attempted to open a dialogue with Lineker a number of times in an attempt to put their “case in front”.

Elsewhere, Al-Thawadi claimed Jurgen Klinsmann appearing on the BBC and talking about “their culture” was “very elitist, orientalist and racist to a certain extent”.

Earlier this week, Sir Tony Blair warned that it is “not sensible” for the UK to criticise World Cup hosts Qatar.

Amid criticism of the Gulf state over its human rights record and attitude towards LGBTQ people, the former prime minister said: “Well, you can feel strongly about gay rights, and indeed, you know, my government introduced a huge amount of legislation on it and I’m a total supporter of it.

“But I think it’s not sensible of us to disrespect Qatar. This is their biggest event that they’ve held… it’s a huge event for the country".