The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has issued a formal apology for an “inappropriate” question posed by one of its reporters to Ghizlane Chebbak, the captain of the Morocco women’s national team.
The incident occurred during a media conference held before Morocco’s 2023 Women’s World Cup opener against Germany.
During the press conference, a reporter from the BBC World Service asked Chebbak about the presence of gay players in the Moroccan squad and inquired about their experiences in a country where same-sex relationships are deemed illegal.
The moderator of the press conference promptly intervened, stating that the question was too political in nature and urged the reporters to focus solely on football-related inquiries. Despite the moderator’s intervention, the BBC reporter insisted that the question was about the players’ personal experiences and not political matters.
A BBC spokesperson expressed regret over the incident, acknowledging that the question was inappropriate. The spokesperson clarified that the intention was not to cause any harm or distress to the individuals involved.
Notably, the question was met with visible dismay from some members of the Moroccan media who were present at the press conference.
Journalists Steph Yang and Shireen Ahmed, who were also in attendance, voiced their disapproval of the line of questioning.
Ahmed, a reporter for CBC Sports, described the reporter’s inquiry as “completely out of line” and emphasised the importance of avoiding harm to the players.
According to CNN, a representative from FIFA addressed the BBC journalist immediately after the press conference concluded.
It is worth mentioning that Morocco began their 2023 Women’s World Cup campaign with a challenging 6-0 defeat against Germany.
The tournament takes place in Australia and New Zealand, and during the event, team captains are permitted to wear armbands representing various social causes. However, there is no explicit mention of LGBTQ rights in the designated armbands, beyond themes such as “gender equality” and “inclusion.”
As of now, the Moroccan Football Federation has not responded to CNN’s request for comment on the matter. The incident has highlighted the importance of sensitivity and responsible journalism when addressing sensitive topics during sporting events.
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