The BBC has publicly apologized following an uproar surrounding a reporter’s “inappropriate” question to the captain of the Moroccan women’s national team at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Before Morocco’s opening match against German, the reporter, who works for the BBC’s World Service, essentially asked captain Ghizlane Chebbak to out anyone on the roster who is LGBTQ.
“In Morocco, it’s illegal to have a gay relationship. Do you have any gay players in your squad and what’s life like for them in Morocco?” asked the reporter.
Morocco captain Ghizlane Chebbak’s almost in disbelief reaction to the question, says it all.
A completely unethical out of line question that poses safety concerns to the players he asking to be named.
Bizarre push followed.
— SHE scores bangers (@SHEscoresbanger) July 24, 2023
The moderator for the press conference jumped in, saying “Sorry, this is a very political question, so we’ll just stick to questions relating to football.”
“No, it’s not political,” replied the journalist. “It’s about people, it’s got nothing to do with politics. Please let her answer the question.”
Cehbbak did not answer that question and the press conference ended after one further question.
“We recognize that the question was inappropriate,” a BBC spokesperson told CNN afterward. “We had no intention to cause any harm or distress.”
Per The Athletic’s Steph Yang, who was at the press conference, “Some members of the Moroccan media were audibly dismayed by the question.”
CBS Sports reporter Shireen Ahmed was also present and said that the question was “out of line.”
I was at this press conference. The reporter was completely out of line. Harm reduction matters and posing the question to the captain or coach was unnecessary. The question was waved off by a FIFA media officer moderating but it shouldn't have been asked. https://t.co/csZ0McTq4k
— Shireen Ahmed (@_shireenahmed_) July 23, 2023
“Harm reduction matters and posing the question to the captain or coach was unnecessary,” Ahmed wrote. The question was waved off by a FIFA media officer moderating but it shouldn’t have been asked.
“Asking a player about her teammates and whether they are gay and how it affects them when you know it is not permissible is bizarre and out of line. The captain cannot out players nor comment on policy bc [because] it could be dangerous for them, too,” said Ahmed. “If reporting harms someone, it is not only unethical but dangerous.”
According to Human Dignity Trust, “same-sex sexual activity is prohibited under the Penal Code 1962, which criminalizes ‘lewd or unnatural acts’. This provision carries a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment and a fine.”
Morocco, which is appearing in its first Women’s World Cup, went on to defeat Germany 6-0 on Monday.