The 2022 World Cup kicks off in Qatar on 20 November.
Gary Neville has found himself called into question for agreeing to work as a pundit for the Qatari state broadcaster, beIN Sports. It takes place amidst the host nation’s mounting criticism for its human rights abuses.
Before leaving for Qatar, the former Manchester United and England defender was left gobsmacked on the popular BBC programme, Have I Got News For You.
While hosting the show, Neville defended himself when pressed by panellist Ian Hislop (via The Mirror).
The panellists discussed UK foreign secretary James Cleverly, advising the LGBT+ community to “flex and compromise” at the Qatar World Cup.
This eventually led to the main point of contention which was celebrities turning a blind eye to Qatar’s horrific human rights record in exchange for money.
Neville left squirming
Hislop refused to pull any punches on the matter where Neville was concerned. He bluntly addressed the United icon’s decision to line his pockets with money from a nation in the limelight for all the wrong reasons.
Paul Merton asked Neville, “But you know David Beckham, don’t you? He’s going, isn’t he? How much is he being paid?”
Neville responded, trying his hand at a bit of humour to lighten the mood: “I don’t know, more than me!”
The ex-United captain visibly nervously attempted to deflect by asking Ian Hislop, “Is it coming home?”
Hislop quick-wittedly took a jab at Neville. Inviting a roar of laughter from the audience, Hislop asked: “What, your reputation?”
The public dressing down of the United legend left him uncomfortable. In his defence, Neville responded: “Yeah, I’m commentating. Well, you’ve got a choice, haven’t you? My view always has been that you either highlight the issues and challenges in these countries and speak about them, or you basically don’t say anything and stay back home and don’t go. And I think we should challenge them.”
Neville sticks to his guns
This is not the first time Neville has encountered criticism. It is also not the first occasion he has offered a rebuttal to concerns about commentating for beIN Sports.
In October, Neville insisted that he would use his position in the spotlight to bring attention to these issues, saying: “When I highlight these issues, I can do so from a position whereby if I am covering eight games on beIN in a World Cup, and those issues come up, or there’s an incident outside the stadium, I will highlight them. I will never shy away from it.”
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