Ian Hislop calls out Gary Neville’s Qatar World Cup ‘hypocrisy’
BBC

Gary Neville is famous for his defending skills on the pitch but recently had to defend himself off the pitch for his decision to commentate at the Qatar World Cup.

The former Manchester United captain and England player guest presented an episode of the BBC political satire panel show Have I Got News For Youwhich aired last night (October 4) and he was grilled by panellists.

With the winter tournament fast approaching, Qatar's human rights record and anti-LGBTQ+ laws were mentioned as the country has received widespread criticism over its stance on these matters.

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A particular comment the panel discussed was from UK foreign secretary James Cleverly who said the LGBT+ fans should "flex and compromise" at the World Cup.

"It's unbelievable and it's all about money and you've got mainline celebrities going over there for huge cheques," guest panellist Richard Madeley said on celebrities attending the tournament.

"You've got people like Robbie [Williams] going out there to sing which I must say I'm very surprised about given all the comments that Robbie Williams has made in the past about gay rights.

"The fact that he's going out there to sing is extraordinary. I don't know what's happened to people," to which the then audience applauded.

"And it's not just him, the Black Eyed Peas are going, aren't they?" he added, though Neville "didn't know either of these."

"But you know David Beckham, don't you? He's going, isn't he? How much is he being paid?" permanent panellist Paul Merton quipped.

"I don't know, more than me!" Neville nervously replied.

Talk soon turned to the fact that Neville is flying out to Qatar to commentate for the BBC when the winter tournament begins on November 20.

Then the ex-footballer then asked long-time panellist Ian Hislop "Is it coming home?"

Hislop savagely responded: "What, your reputation?" causing an eruption of laughter from the audience.

But Hislop was keen to apply more pressure on Neville as he felt other panellists had been "very gentle" with the pundit.

"The elephant in the room is you're commentating there. What's the defence?" he asked.

"Yeah, I'm commentating," Neville said. "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."

However, this answer didn't satisfy Hislop who explained: 'The other option is you stay at home and highlight the abuses. You don't have to take the Qataris' money," causing the audience to applaud in agreement.

"It's just not a very good defence," he added, before questioning along with Madeley how celebrities are meant to "highlight" the issues by attending.

Of course, the exchange was widely discussed on Twitter where people praised Hislop for his grilling Neville.

Neville was also called out for his "hypocrisy," as many noted how he is often outspoken on political issues, being a vocal critic of the Tory government and attending Labour's annual party conference in September.






Neville himself took to Twitter to describe the episode as a "Must watch if you want someone well out of their comfort zone, sweating, dry mouth..."

He also admitted he had got "caught with a few punches on the face on Qatar off Ian Hislop."

"Qatar have had Amnesty International and the International Labour Organisation all over them for the last 10 years because of the World Cup. We either decide that we collaborate with these countries, and try and impact change through football," Neville told the Daily Maillast month.

"Or we say we're never going to let them play sport, we're never going to have a World Cup there, we're never going to allow them to compete against us because they don't have what would be as progressive rights as they should have.

He added: "That is the reality of where I'm at with it. There's no-one that I think wants workers' rights to be better than me, there's no-one who wants women's rights, equality or diversity more than me, I absolutely believe in it.

"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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