A heavy-handed Qatari official reportedly snatched a reporter’s mobile phone outside the Al Janoub Stadium before Friday’s match between Uruguay and Ghana, while several fans were said to have been left in tears amid the threat of a crush occurring. World Cup organisers and security personnel have been widely criticised on a regular basis over the course of the tournament, with the off-pitch controversies in Qatar making just as many headlines as the football at present.
Officials have not taken kindly to foreign journalists on several occasions since the start of the World Cup, with a Danish camera crew and a live broadcast by Argentine reporters among those to have been targeted in recent weeks. A reporter for the Daily Mail has since claimed that her phone was taken by an official on Friday, who approached her after she began filming when hundreds of fans rushed towards security barriers before Uruguay’s win over Ghana.
“There was a real danger of a crush occurring,” wrote Kathryn Batte as she recounted the scenes that unfolded outside the Al Janoub Stadium.
“Women and children were in tears, with one young girl and her father let inside to escape the distressing scenes. I had filmed everything that had happened and shared the videos with my editors. I was standing by the gate after the situation had been controlled when eight security officers approached me.
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“I was told I had to wait there but given no reason why. I became concerned about why I was not allowed to leave and why nobody could explain what was happening. There were officers either side of me, meaning I could not move in either direction. I just kept being told I had to wait there.”
Batte then explained how she was threatened with arrest if she did not wipe the videos she had taken from her camera roll, adding: “I was then told I had two options, to either delete all of the video I had taken or be escorted to the police.
“I agreed to delete the videos but they insisted they had to check the phone as well as my email and WhatsApp account to check I had not sent it to anybody. I managed to quickly erase the WhatsApp messages that contained the videos.
“The guard then took a photo of my Hayya card (visa) and checked my email and WhatsApp account before I was told I was free to leave. This situation needed to be reported. It was dangerous and the authorities are lucky nobody was badly injured. Journalists should not be threatened with arrest for doing their job.”
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