A heavy-handed Qatari official took it upon himself to interrupt a live television interview with a disabled fan at the last unpleasant moment of this year’s World Cup. Security personnel in the country have been known to hassle reporters over the course of the tournament so far, with a live Danish broadcast being interrupted last week by officials threatening to break up their film equipment.
Argentine journalist Joaquín Álvarez was the latest reporter to confront Qatari officials on Thursday while interviewing a wheelchair-bound fan on live television. He was confronted by a tall man with an official pass dangling from his Arab robe during the broadcast, with several additional security guards in tow.
The incident occurred during a live report on the popular Argentine program Nosotros a la Mañana, hosted by Álvarez on the El Trece channel. A video shared on Twitter shows Álvarez joking with Argentine fans in the Barwa Village area of Doha about their favorite TV shows before he is interrupted by the man.
During the interruption, studio colleagues were heard saying: “This is the government of Qatar.” Álvarez was quickly forced to stop filming before resuming it later while he was in the back of a vehicle to explain that he was forced to leave the area in which he was working.
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“I got scared and thought they were going to take me to jail,” Álvarez said. “The person who stopped the filming got out of a van and told us in a very rude way that we couldn’t film anymore because we were in a private place.
“I told him we were showing something nice, but they told us we had to go and at one point they even wanted to take our gear away.”
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Nicolás Magiali, who hosts the show from the studio while Álvarez covers the World Cup from Qatar, responded by saying: “This is an example of severe censorship and we have to say it. They covered the camera, they didn’t leave us film, they ordered you to leave in a rude way and, furthermore, the person who was speaking did not identify himself.”
Meanwhile, Álvarez took to social media to thank supporters for showing their support after the incident, saying: “We had a bad experience and what happened was totally unfair because we had all our permits and everything in order.”
“It’s already in the past, another anecdote. The most important thing for me is that Argentina plays again on Saturday.”
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