ESPN apologized for and removed a puff piece about Qatar and the 2022 World Cup by writer Phil Ball from its website on Friday after the outlet was lambasted when it was revealed that Ball, the writer, had received an “all-expenses paid” trip to Qatar to write the article.
Carefully re-evaluated our recent Qatar story and decided to remove it. It did not meet our journalistic standards. We apologize.
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) November 22, 2013
In what read like a promotional article for the oil-rich nation amidst intense criticism Qatar is receiving for hosting the World Cup in what may be dangerous temperatures and using low-wage workers in “slave-labor conditions” to build the infrastructure, Ball wrote that the “witch hunt” against Qatar was being led an “anti-Qatari brigade” of “Western journalists who have never stepped foot in the country, according to Business Insider.
The article also mentioned that the “space-age stadium cooling system that the Qataris promise will protect players and fans from the oppressive summer heat ‘will work,'” without offering an explanation of how.
The author also “argues that the workers’ rights controversy is not as bad as it sounds because the people in power “have the power and influence to fix it almost overnight” and “the lack of alcohol isn’t a big deal because “a month of water and fruit juice might even improve some folks’ health.”
“Meanwhile, it might be a good idea to get off Qatar’s back and try to consider the interesting things that will come out of this venture,” Ball argued in an article that was lambasted as reading “nothing so much like a travelogue of the Soviet Union in the 1930s, with all the attendant handwaving and assurances that the system will work, given time.”