In another ominous sign of the World Cup in Qatar, local authorities have threatened to destroy the cameras of a Danish TV news crew covering the event live.
Qatar World Cup organizers later apologized to Danish broadcaster TV2, which they claimed had “accidentally interrupted” live coverage of a Doha street where angry authorities threatened to destroy their camera after initially blocking the lens with their hands on Wednesday.
TV2 reporter Rasmus Thanhholdt responded during the police action: “Mister, you invited the whole world to come here. Why can’t we make movies? This is a public place.”
He added: “You can break the camera. Do you want to break it? Are you threatening us by smashing the camera?’
Tanhold can be seen on camera showing authorities various permits from the crew, but they argue with him.
Qatari officials later said in a statement: “After verifying the crew’s valid tournament accreditation and filming permit, on-site security apologized to the broadcaster before the crew continued their work,” the Associated Press reported.
Thanhholdt was unconvinced by the apology and wondered if other media outlets would be attacked for simply reporting.
“The team was clearly told that their cameras would be destroyed if they didn’t stop filming,” the TV2 website said. “This is despite the fact that TV2’s team obtained the correct accreditations and reported from a public place.”
It is not clear why the crew was interrupted, with Qatari authorities describing the collision as nothing more than a misunderstanding.
It is the latest shock wave in the controversy over Qatar’s controversial choice to host the 2010 World Cup. The US Department of Justice has accused the country of paying large sums of bribes to become this year’s host of FIFA, soccer’s international governing body.
When the country was selected, it had no footballing heritage, no stadiums to host international level matches, and the weather at typical tournament times was so hot that the schedule of football leagues around the world had to be changed to accommodate Qatar’s weather.
The main problems are rewarding a country that violates gross human rights, especially the recruitment of migrant workers who rule the country. Thousands of migrant workers have died in Qatar over the past 10 years, many of them from construction accidents or heatstroke on World Cup-related projects.
In other offenses, homosexuality is illegal in the country and can be punishable by death, according to the Human Dignity Trust, a global LGBTQ rights group.
But even for heterosexual people, public love is rejected, women should dress modestly and be with husbands, not boyfriends. Women who report sexual assault to the police can reportedly be flogged for having illicit sex.
Alcohol consumption is heavily restricted during the event in the Muslim-majority country, which has a significant impact on another spectacle of World Cup fans.
The British are so worried about potential problems between the authorities and the fans that they are sending a special crew of “enforcers” to protect citizens from overzealous police in Qatar.
Officials did little to comfort the terrified fans.
Although “handshakes” are allowed in public, Qatar’s ambassador to Britain, Fahad bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah, could not guarantee anything else would be accepted in an interview with London’s Times Radio.
“I think it’s important to remember the norms and cultures of Qatari society,” he warned, adding that he mistakenly believed public displays of affection were illegal in the UK.
Fans around the world are boycotting the event and several teams have organized protests against Qatar’s human rights abuses. Denmark’s team will wear black shirts as part of their kit in “mourning” for the thousands of migrant workers who died building stadiums and other facilities for the World Cup.