‘Sorry, this is a very political question’: BBC forced to apologize for ‘inappropriate’ question to Morocco’s women’s football captain after reporter asked what life was like for her ‘gay players’ in strictly anti-LGBT country
- FIFA halted the conference after a reporter asked if any players were gay.
The BBC has apologized after a reporter asked a player at the Women’s World Cup an “inappropriate” question about homosexuality at a news conference.
The journalist, who reportedly works for the BBC World Service, asked national team captain Ghizlane Chebbak on Sunday: “We know that gay marriage is illegal.” [in Morocco]. Are there gay players on the team? And how is it for them?
A FIFA representative had to close the question, assessing that the Moroccan players could be “in danger” by asking if any were gay or not.
“Sorry, this is a very political question, so we will limit ourselves to football related questions,” they said.
A BBC spokesperson has since said: ‘We acknowledge the question was inappropriate. We had no intention of causing any harm or distress.
Same-sex relationships for both men and women are illegal in Morocco, and homosexuality is punishable by three to five years in prison.
Ghizlane Chebbak of Morocco appears at a press conference on July 23 during the World Cup
Ghizlane Chebbak dismissed the question before a FIFA moderator chimed in.
Chebbak dismissed the question before a FIFA moderator silenced the reporter.
The representative reminded the journalist that they were not there to discuss politics.
Moroccan media in attendance were audibly surprised by the question, according to the athleticwith journalist Steph Yang scathing on the question that puts player safety at risk.
“A reporter here asked directly if there are gay players on the Moroccan team, given that same-sex relationships are illegal in Morocco,” he wrote in Twitter.
“From a damage reduction perspective, this is not an appropriate question for a player and would have endangered the players themselves.
“Obviously we are going to talk about the intersection of politics and sport at this World Cup, and it is vital to do so.”
“But we must be careful that our questions do not cause further harm to those affected by those same policies.”
CBC Canada Muslim journalist Shireen Ahmed also objected to the line of questioning.
The reporter was completely out of line. Damage reduction is important and the question did not need to be raised with the captain or coach. The question was dismissed by a moderating FIFA press officer, but it shouldn’t have been asked,” he commented.
Morocco, which is almost exclusively Muslim, is the first Arab country to qualify for the tournament.
The German Jule Brand in action with the Moroccan Ghizlane Chebbak
Moroccan stars Fatima Tagnaout (left) and Ghizlane Chhiri (centre) visit the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium ahead of their tournament debut against Germany.
Moroccan players, including Nouhaila Benzina, center, train in Melbourne ahead of the team’s first match of the tournament.
TO survey by GAY TIMES found that 37% of straight soccer fans felt the game was becoming a safer space for players to come out.
But a third of LGBTQ fans still felt they were not made to feel welcome and accepted at games.