The World Cup hasn’t even started yet and Qatari authorities are already threatening foreign journalists.
Earlier this week, a Danish film crew was in the middle of a live broadcast in the capital city, Doha, when they were interrupted by security guards who rolled up on a golf cart and attempted to shut them down. The reporter, Rasmus Tantholdt, showed his media pass and accused the security guards of attempting to break the camera.
“You invited the whole world here. Why can’t we film?” Tantholdt asked. “It’s a public place.”
Qatar’s ominously named Supreme Committee, which was set up to help the country prepare for the World Cup (read: launder its reputation as a repressive authoritarian regime that brutalizes migrants, gay people, and dissidents), ended up apologizing for “mistakenly interrupting” the broadcast,” per Reuters:
Upon inspection of the crew’s valid tournament accreditation and filming permit, an apology was made to the broadcaster by on-site security before the crew resumed their activity.
Tournament organisers have since spoken to the journalist and issued an advisory to all entities to respect the filming permits in place for the tournament.
The Supreme Committee—you’d think that the high-powered American PR and lobbying firms Qatar hired to help them whitewash its reputation would have suggested not using a name that sounds like a branch of the Galactic Empire—is designed to be shameless and combative. In an effort to make their cursed World Cup look fun and inviting, it paid for an untold number of fans to travel to and attend the World Cup on the condition they leave positive reviews and narc on anyone who doesn’t. Then, when people understandably wondered about the authenticity of some of the fans present, the Supreme Committee issued a pissy little statement saying the speculation was unfounded.
“Numerous journalists and commentators on social media have questioned whether these are ‘real’ fans. We thoroughly reject these assertions, which are both disappointing and unsurprising,” it said, according to ESPN.
The World Cup begins Sunday.