Mark Andrews: Gary Lineker's change of heart, law and order Qatari style, and put that light out!

Not really a huge surprise that the BBC's coverage of the 2022 World Cup began, not with the opening ceremony in Qatar, but with a virtue-signalling monologue from Gary Lineker about the host country's record on human rights. Indeed, it seems you are not a proper presenter these days unless you go the full Hughie Green, airing your views on the burning issues of the day.

Put that light out!
Put that light out!

Even so, it's a bit of a shift from what Gary said just four years ago, when the World Cup was held in Mr Putin's friendly, inclusive Russia.

“Who are we to start getting judgemental on who should have the World Cup?" he said. “We all know how corrupt our country is at times.”

Nice one, Gary.

* * *

And here's another story from Qatar which has not attracted quite the same level of publicity. When Argentinian television reporter Dominique Metzger had her wallet stolen while dancing with fans, she contacted police. An officer told her the thief was certain to be caught, and the wallet returned. The only remaining question was what type of punishment would she like the offender to receive.

Now if that were me, I would ask for something really eye-catching and creative. Maybe 40 lashes on the pitch before one of the quarter finals, or placing them in stocks for half-time entertainment. I wonder what Gary would have to say about that? Anyhow, the recommended options were five years in jail or immediate deportation.

Now imagine if such a crime had happened in this country. If you were really lucky, a civilian member of staff might log the crime on a computer, and hand you a Victim Support leaflet.

Granted, the Qataris aren't that big on people holding hands in public or wearing bikinis. But I'll wager the chances of being robbed in the street are also a lot lower too.

* * *

Rampant inflation, half the public sector on strike, all we need to take us right back to the 1970s is a blitz of patronising 'public information broadcasts'.

So you will be delighted to hear the Government is planning a new series of television commercials telling us to take showers rather than baths, not to leave the television on standby, and switch off the heating when not at home. Which I'm sure never crossed any of our minds.

What we really need, though, is a modern-day Warden Hodges to ensure people comply.

Put that light out!

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