Tuesday, May 5, 2015

German TV Crew Investigating FIFA Arrested and Detained in Qatar

A television crew was arrested, interrogated and had its equipment deleted and destroyed by Qatari authorities while filming a documentary about the 2022 World Cup.

A reporter, cameraman, camera assistant and driver were denied permission to leave the Gulf state for five days after capturing footage of labour camps there for a programme called The Selling of Football: Sepp Blatter and the Power of Fifa.
The reporters were released and their equipment destroyed:
[Florian] Bauer and his team were arrested on March 27, a day after arriving in Qatar, and were held for 14 hours before being released at 4am the following morning.

Admitting he was “scared”, Bauer said: “There were interrogations by people from the intelligence service who said if I didn’t co-operate with them, it would work badly for me.”

The crew was physically unharmed, which could not be said for its equipment.

Bauer added: “Everything was deleted: phone, hard drives. A laptop got destroyed, got opened by I don’t know who.”
The press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranks Qatar 155th out of 180 countries in terms of press freedom.  Reporters Without Borders argues that with hosting the World Cup comes certain responsibilities:
"Any country with major sporting events such as Qatar seeks the international stage, it is also important that global public be allowed to ask questions." (translated)
For its part, the Qatari government explained that the arrests had nothing to do with FIFA or the World Cup, but occurred to the fact that filming was taking place without required permits. This seems rather circular as the reporters requested permits to film and were ignored. So they proceeded anyway.

Continuing revelations about the Qatar bid to host the World Cup and working conditions within Qatar continue to hound FIFA and the Qatari government. The latest episode adds to the list. The German documentary is set to air next week. FIFA and Qatar can be sure that it will get many more viewers thanks to the arrested journalists. FIFA has apparently not commented.


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