The 2022 World Cup kicks off in Qatar on November 20.
Gary Neville has come under fire for agreeing to work as a pundit for Qatar’s state broadcaster, beIN Sports. It takes place amid mounting criticism from the host nation for its human rights abuses.
Before leaving for Qatar, the former Manchester United and England defender wowed on the popular BBC show Have I Got News For You.
While hosting the show, Neville fought back when he was pressed by panelist Ian Hislop (via The Looking Glass).
Panelists discussed UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly advising the LGBT+ community to “flex and engage” at the World Cup in Qatar.
This ultimately led to the main point of contention, which was that celebrities turned a blind eye to Qatar’s horrific human rights record in exchange for money.
Neville squirmed away
Hislop refused to mince words on the matter where Neville was concerned. He bluntly referred to the United icon’s decision to line his pockets with money from a nation in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
Paul Merton asked Neville: “But you know David Beckham, don’t you? He leaves, right? How much do you get paid?
Neville responded, trying a bit of humor to lighten the mood, “I don’t know, more than me!”
The visibly flustered former United captain tried to sidetrack by asking Ian Hislop: “Is he coming home?”
Hislop quickly took a swing at Neville. Inviting a laugh from the audience, Hislop asked, “What, your reputation?”
The United legend’s public reprimand left him uneasy. Defending him, Neville replied: “Yes, I am commenting. Well, you have a choice, don’t you? My point of view has always been that either you highlight the problems and challenges in these countries and talk about them, or you basically say nothing and stay home and don’t go. And I think we should challenge them.”
Neville sticks to his guns
This isn’t the first time Neville has faced criticism. It’s also not the first time he’s offered a rebuttal to concerns about commenting for beIN Sports.
In October, Neville insisted that he would use his position in the spotlight to draw attention to these issues, saying: “When I highlight these issues, I can do it from a position where if I’m covering eight games on beIN in a World Cup World, and those issues come up, or there’s an incident outside the stadium, I’m going to highlight them. I’ll never walk away from that.”
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