A QATARI World Cup chief has blasted the BBC for "very racist" coverage and says that pundits are pushing harmful Middle East stereotypes.
Hassan al-Thawadi condemned the BBC for launching its World Cup coverage with a three-minute monologue that missed out on the opening ceremony.
The monologue focused on the country’s poor human rights record for women, migrant workers, and the LGBT community.
And al-Thawadi accused BBC presenter Gary Lineker of ignoring attempts to engage with Qatari organisers before criticising them on television.
In an interview with talkSPORT, Thawadi, the head of the committee for delivery and legacy, said that the former England striker did not "bother to engage" with organisers.
Thawadi 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.
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"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.”
He added: “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.
“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.”
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The Qatari World Cup chief also criticised comments by BBC commentator Jürgen Klinsmann of pushing harmful Middle East stereotypes.
The ex-Germany star accused Iran of having a culture of “working the referee” after they beat Wales last week.
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 Jürgen 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?”
However, Lineker, who worked for the Qatari-owned broadcaster Al Jazeera in 2009-13, denied an approach was ever made to him.
“This is news to me,” the former England striker tweeted.
“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.”
A BBC spokesperson said: "We have a responsibility to cover the legitimate issues associated with this World Cup without fear or favour, alongside bringing audiences the tournament action on the pitch, and we strongly refute these claims."
But Sir Tony Blair has also said that it was not “sensible” for Britain to “disrespect” Qatar by criticising its attitude to gay rights.
The former Labour prime minister, 69, said: “You can feel strongly about gay rights, and indeed, my government introduced a huge amount of legislation on it and I’m a total supporter of it.
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“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.”
Sports minister Stuart Andrew, who is gay, vowed to wear the OneLove rainbow armband banned by FIFA at tonight’s England v Wales match.
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