Morocco’s captain, Ghizlane Chebbak, led the media at the Women’s World Cup, Monday against Germanyand he was surprised by a question that one of the BBC reporters had.
“We know that same-sex marriage is not allowed (in Morocco). Are there gay players in the team, and how is it for them?” asked the reporter.
The question was quickly shut down by the FIFA administrator, who told the media to avoid anything political.
Homosexuality is illegal in Morocco and can lead to up to five years in prison.
The BBC reporter was heavily criticized for the question, which some experts believe will put the Moroccan players at risk.
“Based on injury mitigation, this is not a fair question for the player and would have put the players at risk,” the Athletic’s Steph Yang, who was at the press conference, wrote on Twitter.
“Obviously we will discuss the intersection of politics and sports at this World Cup, and it is important to do so. But we must be careful that our questions do not harm the people affected by the same politics.”
CBC Sports’ Shireen Ahmed was also at the press conference and did not respond well, saying the reporter’s question “reeks of privilege”.
“The reporter was completely gone,” he wrote on Twitter.
“To minimize harm and ask a question to the captain or the coach was unnecessary. The question was answered by the FIFA media manager but it should not have been asked.
“To ask a football player about his fellow players and if they are gay and how it affects them when you know that it is illegal and strange and out. The captain cannot remove players or comment on the process (because) it can be dangerous for them too.
“This is not a matter of freedom of the press. You can ask about social norms in different places without putting people in danger. Journalists have a responsibility to act impartially, accurately and carefully. If the reports hurt someone, it is not inappropriate and dangerous.”
Questions were also asked about Chebbak’s partner Nouhaila Benzina, who is expected to stay. the first player to wear a Muslim headscarf at the Women’s World Cup.
“We are honored to be the first Arab country to participate in the Women’s World Cup,” said Chebbak.
“We feel that we have to bear the great responsibility of giving a good image, showing what the Moroccan community has done.”
If Morocco had hosted the Women’s World Cup ten years ago, a player who wanted to wear a hijab at a game might have been forced to choose between that and representing her country.
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