Journalists filming FIFA documentary arrested and detained in Qatar

Tuesday May 5th, 2015

Journalists from two German television networks who were filming a documentary on the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar were arrested and detained there late last month.

West German Broadcasting (WDR) and ARD, two of Germany's biggest public broadcasting networks, were working together to film a documentary on FIFA's controversial decision to hand the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. The documentary, "The Selling of Soccer — Sepp Blatter and the Power of FIFA," aired Monday night.

WDR issued a statement on the March 27 arrest on Monday. A portion of the release is below, translated from German and edited for clarity:

"During the filming of the documentary, a camera crew from West German Broadcasting was arrested in Qatar. The station had reported in recent years on many of the preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the living conditions of workers in the country. In vain, the team had for weeks been trying to get permission to shoot and asked senior government officials for interviews on the announced labor law reforms and the living conditions of migrant workers.

"The WDR team was arrested during a shoot with workers in the Qatari capital of Doha, then interrogated by the State Security, the demonstrated prosecutor and only released after 14 hours. The WDR employees were not allowed to leave Qatar for five days until the Qatari foreign minister allowed them to leave. Camera equipment, laptops and personal mobile phones were confiscated and—contrary to other commitments also to the German Embassy in Qatar—returned only with a four-week delay. All data have been deleted and pieces of equipment were damaged."

The crew left Qatar on April 2 after the German ambassador intervened, according to Reporters Without Borders. The seized equipment was returned on April 26.

Florian Bauer, a reporter for ARD and WRD, acknowledged the arrest and detainment on Monday.

Working conditions in Qatar have been repeatedly been labeled "modern slavery," but Hassan Al-Thawadi, the head of Qatar's World Cup organizing committee, said Monday that no workers on the country's stadium projects for the tournament have died or sustained major injuries. Five stadiums are being built or renovated for the World Cup, reports The Guardian.

"We have had about 4.8m working hours. We've got about just over 2,500 workers and about five stadiums—we are at the early stages of construction," said Thawadi.

"The World Cup stadium projects that we are responsible for, there have been no fatalities and no major injuries as well."

Mike Fiammetta

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