BBC under fire over 'racist' World Cup punditry on Iran
The BBC has come under fire over its coverage of Iran v Wales on Friday, with viewers slamming the match pundits' comments as "racist" and "xenophobic".
The backlash was related to former player and manager Jurgen Klinsmann's claim that it was "in the culture" of the Iranian side to "work the referee".
Klinsmann made several remarks to the same effect in his post-match analysis, saying: "that's their culture".
“This is not by coincidence, this is all purposefully. This is just part of their culture, that’s how they play it,” Klinsmann said.
“Working the ref, working the opp”, he said, “They make you lose your focus, they make you lose your concentration and what’s really important to you.”
"That's their culture..."— Lowkey (@Lowkey0nline) November 26, 2022
Jurgen Klinsmann confidently asserts that Iranians have a cultural predisposition to cheating in football matches four times in one minute.
Iran won Friday's game against Wales 2-0, bouncing back from its 2-0 loss to England in its World Cup opener.
Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was sent off during the match, after which Iran dominated and scored both goals of the game.
Another of the BBC pundits hinted that the game may have turned out differently "had they had a European referee”.
Klinsmann agreed, highlighting the official's Guatemalan nationality.
The remarks drew criticism on social media, where users accused Klinsmann of "racism".
"Klinsmann refrain post-game reducing Iran to some kind of thuggish gaming of the system. They dominated the damn game. Outplayed them. Borderline racist," said one Twitter user.
"Jurgen Klinsmann should be barred from punditry for the rest of this tournament btw. His baseless, racist waffling during the post match analysis towards Iran was disgraceful and the BBC should be ashamed of themselves for letting him rattle on unchallenged on live TV," said another.
The criticism follows revelations that the BBC received more than 1,500 complaints over its coverage of the Qatar World Cup, with many judging its treatment of the host nation as "unfair" and "one-sided".
The BBC has joined other Western broadcasters in using the World Cup to focus on criticism of Qatar's human rights record. Doha has hit back at its critics, accusing them of double standards and singling out Qatar.
Last Sunday, the BBC broke with decades of broadcasting convention by deciding not to show the 2022 World Cup opening ceremony on terrestrial TV. The decision also sparked a backlash from angry fans who missed the ceremony, which included performances from Morgan Freeman and K-pop star Jung Kook.