‘Stop the exhausted virtue signalling’: online rage at BBC anchor over hypocrisy in impassioned speech on Qatar 2022

Western hypocrisy and double standards have been called out once again by social media users.

Social media users have called out yet another western hypocrisy and double standards after BBC football anchor Gary Lineker criticised Qatar while broadcasting live from a stadium in Doha on Sunday, as the channel snubbed the opening ceremony of the World Cup 2022.

“Ever since FIFA chose Qatar back in 2010, the smallest nation to host football’s greatest competition has faced some big questions,” Lineker said in his opening monologue to the BBC’s World Cup coverage.

“From accusations of corruption in the bidding process to the treatment of migrant workers who’ve built the stadiums where many lost their lives. Homosexuality is illegal here and women’s rights are also in the spotlight. Also, the decision to switch the tournament from summer to winter,” the Match of the Day host continued.

Ending his controversial gambit, Lineker added: “Against that backdrop, there is a tournament to be played here that will be watched and enjoyed around the world. Stick to football say FIFA, well we will – for a couple of minutes at least.”

Lineker himself had previously justified the biggest football tournament being held in Russia, saying the UK should not “point fingers”.

His move on Sunday brought attention to his statement back in 2018 regarding Russia’s status as host of the FIFA World Cup, in which he said that the “corrupt” United Kingdom should not judge Russia for hosting the World Cup.

“Who are we to start getting judgemental on who should have the World Cup?,” he said at the time in comments to Radio Times, according to reports which resurfaced online this week.

“We all know how corrupt our country is at times,” he said.

“Perhaps we don’t like some things that Putin has done, but we’ll be there, we’ll be their guests,” Lineker added.

Uproar also ensued on social media among football fans in the UK as the BBC and ITV networks decided to not broadcast most of the 2022 World Cup opening ceremony in Qatar on Sunday, with many saying “we want to watch football, not get a political lesson”.

Since making history in 2010 as the first Arab nation to win the bid to host the World Cup, Qatar has faced relentless backlash. 

The criticism against the Gulf state was mainly driven by the West and has evolved over time, from attacks against its geographically small size to alleged violations of migrant workers’ rights.

Officials in Qatar have cited the West’s refusal to see a non-western country host the World Cup, labelling some of the criticism as racist.

Twitter rages

Lineker’s opening monologue for the BBC’s World Cup coverage has prompted a tremendous amount of backlash online, spotlighting “white Western European hypocrisy.”

“Oppression and human rights abuses are acceptable so long as the people doing it look like us,” one Twitter user said, referring to Lineker’s justification of a World Cup in Russia, where violence against the LGBT-Q community is rampant.

Many have also noted Lineker’s hypocrisy all while he was sitting in the Gulf country and “taking the money”, saying if he cared this deeply about the cause, he would have refused to travel there. “The hypocrisy of the guy knows no bounds.”

Pointing out how “funny” European activism is for its nit-picking of struggles when it serves their agenda, many have called this activism ‘hypocritical’.

“English pundits taking the moral high ground and getting away with it just because the tournament isn’t being held in a western country is comical tbh [to be honest],” another frustrated user said.

“Man literally overlooked the fact that your country has killed a lot of cultured civilisation. Can you please be quiet for some moments and let me enjoy football in peace perhaps?” another user said, referring to some of the atrocities the UK has directly or indirectly participated in around the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lineker’s monologue has also prompted high-profile critics like Piers Morgan to condemn both him and the BBC. “Outrageously disrespectful to Qatar that the BBC didn’t broadcast the World Cup opening ceremony, and instead put out more virtue-signalling guff about how awful it is,” Morgan said on Twitter.

“If they’re that appalled, they should bring home their vast army of employees & spare us this absurd hypocrisy.”

Later on, the famous British television personality further emboldened western hypocrisy, saying: “Britain gets 20% of its gas from Qatar. Obviously, to signal our virtue, we should tell them we don’t want it any more – right?”

Some users have also said that the same attitude and calling out human rights record should be maintained in 2026, when the United States, Canada, and Mexico jointly hosted the FIFA World cup.

Some of the criticism already following the US for hosting the major tournament in the future is related to a range of issues at home, including lax gun control that has seen a worrisome number of school shootings, violence against people of colour, separation in families as a result of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) stringent laws, as well as widespread homelessness.

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