With the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar fast approaching, official U.S. English-language broadcaster Fox Sports has made it pretty clear they’re going to focus on the on-field play rather than the controversies around the event. Those include human rights abuses claims, treatment of and deaths of migrant workers, and the since-revealed corruption that led to Qatar getting this tournament in the first place. In discussion of that approach, Fox World Cup executive producer David Neal said their viewers don’t expect them to deliver hard-hitting investigative pieces the way E:60 or Real Sports do:
“We believe that viewers come to Fox Sports during the World Cup to see the greatest sports event in the world. They don’t come to us expecting us to be [HBO’s] Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, or [ESPN’s] E: 60. That’s not who we pretend to be, and I don’t think that’s what the viewer expectation is.”
Well, E:60 and Jeremy Schaap in particular have been covering FIFA corruption in general and the 2022 event in Qatar’s specific problems well for much of the past decade. And ESPN announced Monday that they’ll have a new installment coming out on Nov. 6 (ahead of the Nov. 20 start of the World Cup) further exploring the issues with this tournament in Qatar:
• Selection process
• Human rights abuses claims
• Qatar govt promises to improve migrant worker conditions
'Qatar's World Cup' – @JeremySchaap reports
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) October 17, 2022
It’s impressive that ESPN has been able to put together a new E:60 on this, as Qatar has often cracked down hard on critical journalism. And it’s not clear how much Fox would have been able to do even if they were interested in serious investigative coverage of World Cup issues. That’s especially true now that the country has even banned foreign media outlets from photography and videography in most non-official venues, including private homes.
But it is certainly notable that ESPN’s E:60 will again be delivering a deep look at Qatar. They’re not the only ones doing so, but their history of reporting on this front certainly raises the anticipation for what they’ll bring to the table. And it’s interesting to see this after the actual English-language broadcaster of this tournament has said they’ll leave that kind of coverage up to E:60 and other outlets. E:60 has now come through on that.
“Qatar’s World Cup” will air on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. ET on Nov. 6, and will also be available to stream on ESPN+.
[ESPN PR on Twitter]