A German TV crew was recently arrested in Qatar after filming a documentary entitled “Sold Football: Sepp Blatter and the Power of FIFA” in the 2022 World Cup host nation.
From the BBC:
The filmmakers claim they were only allowed to leave the country five days later without their filming equipment, laptops and mobile phones, which were sent on four weeks later with all data deleted.
Reporter Florian Bauer said: “Now it’s public. We got arrested in Qatar, interrogated by the police and the intelligence service. Not allowed to leave the country for days.”
This was all just a silly misunderstanding, though. One that other journalists covering Qatar’s World Cup preparations will hopefully learn from.
First of all, as Qatari officials have clarified, the filmmakers were only arrested because they didn’t have permission to film in the country. It had nothing to do with the content of their work, which was only deleted from their equipment before it was returned to them as punishment for their rudeness. Not because it contained damning evidence of objectionable labor practices or exposed a negative reality. That would be ridiculous.
So how does a journalist gain permission to film or report in Qatar? All they have to do is submit a written answer to one easy question: “Are you a respectable journalist with a commitment to revealing the positives about Qatar and the 2022 World Cup, or are you a deceptive rodent hellbent on spreading your own twisted and dishonest version of the truth?”
If they affirm that they are a respectable journalist, they will of course be allowed to film and report in the country. If they admit to being a deceptive rodent, then Qatar will do the world a favor and deny them the chance to peddle their lies. And if someone who claims to be a respectable journalist later reveals themselves to be a deceptive rodent, then their punishment will be to serve as a migrant worker in Qatar. Which is almost more of a reward than a punishment, considering how great migrant workers have it in Qatar.
And how great do migrant workers have it in Qatar? Just this week, tournament boss Hassan Al-Thawadi announced that no workers have died on World Cup stadium projects, despite reports to the contrary. From the AFP:
“We have had about 4.8 million working hours. We’ve got about just over 2,500 workers and about five stadiums — we are at the early stages of construction,” said Thawadi, the secretary general for Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy.
“The World Cup stadium projects that we are responsible for, there have been no fatalities and no major injuries as well.”
Now, he did say that “194 Nepalese people were killed in Qatar during 2014, but did not explain how they died or if they were working on infrastructure projects.” Because that information simply isn’t important. Somehow, someway, everyone dies. That’s just science. And everything else is childish finger pointing.
With that, journalists can now go ahead and stop asking questions and making accusations about migrant laborers prevented from leaving the country and being worked to death for little or no pay in extreme conditions on projects for which the Qatari government may or may not be holding themselves responsible.
That’s pretty much everything journalists need to know to successfully cover Qatar’s World Cup preparations! So remember: Always be sure you have the government’s approval. Believe absolutely everything they say. And you won’t be arrested and have your work destroyed. Maybe.
It’s really that simple!