Lineker's monologue puts Neville's assessment of Qatar World Cup to shame
Gary Lineker began the BBC's coverage of the World Cup in Qatar with a monologue addressing the human rights abuses in the host nation.
The lead presenter for the BBC's coverage of the tournament in the Gulf nation – the first time it has ever been hosted in the Middle East – focused on allegations of corruption of how Qatar landed the tournament, alongside its treatment of migrant workers who built the stadiums for the tournament and LGBT+ people.
Lineker's remarks came ahead of the opening game of the tournament, between Qatar and Ecuador. His comments were in contrast to Gary Neville's assessment of Qatar, which was delivered on Qatari-owned beIN Sports alongside stinging criticism of FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
Lineker said in his monologue to open BBC's coverage: "It's the most controversial World Cup in history and a ball hasn't been kicked. Ever since FIFA chose Qatar back in 2010, the smallest nation to have hosted football’s greatest competition has faced some big questions.
"From accusations of corruption in the bidding process to the treatment of migrant workers who built the stadiums, where many lost their lives. Homosexuality is illegal here, women's rights and freedom of expression are in the spotlight, also the decision six years ago to switch the World Cup from summer to winter."
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Lineker concluded his opening by stating: "Against that backdrop is a tournament to be played, one that will be watched and enjoyed around the world. Stick to football say FIFA, well we will for a couple of minutes at least."
On beIN Sports (part of the beIN Media Group, owned by the Qatari state), Neville was quizzed on what he thought of the controversies surrounding the tournament and responded: "Depending what part of the world you're in! In England, you aren't quite going to think the same over here as you do in Qatar. I think that's the reality of it the workers who built these stadiums do need thanking and honouring in the right way - but the football is here. it's the greatest sports tournament in the world.
"There should be a World Cup in an Arab country, there should be a World Cup in a Muslim country, there should be a World Cup in the Middle East that is a fact! But we also need to challenge and scrutinise the things that go on in every country including ours and Qatar."