Alex Scott defends covering Qatar World Cup: I love my job

Watch: Alex Scott defends covering Qatar World Cup

Alex Scott has said boycotting the Qatar World Cup would have been "the easy option".

The 38-year-old retired footballer and TV presenter defended her decision to be part of the BBC coverage of the 2022 soccer tournament, in spite of the host country's human rights abuses of gay people, women and migrant workers.

Scott said on BBC Sport: "I've had conversations about, 'I should be staying at home, I should be boycotting' and I thought long and hard about it. I think that for me personally would have been the easy option.

Read more: Alex Scott admits she ended up in 'dark place' after racist backlash to her work

"I love my job and when I think about it sitting here and having the harder conversations and it's bigger isn't it? We're talking about migrant workers, we're talking about the LGBT+ community, we're talking about women's rights.

BBC Football Focus presenter Alex Scott is seen prior to the Premier League match between Fulham FC and AFC Bournemouth at Craven Cottage on October 15, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
Alex Scott has defended her decision to front coverage from the Qatar World Cup. (Getty Images)

"You think about four years ago, I was thinking about it this morning, I was the first female pundit for the BBC at the World Cup. You think how far we've moved in the last four years.

"Let's hope in the next four years at the world cup we're never having to have those conversations again."

The One Show and Football Focus presenter - who played for England and Arsenal during her sporting career - discussed Fifa president Gianni Infantino's controversial speech ahead of the launch of the World Cup in which he claimed to relate to gay people, disabled people and migrant workers, as he had been persecuted for having red hair.

Alex Scott attends the GQ Men Of The Year Awards 2022 on November 16, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Lia Toby/Getty Images)
Alex Scott has said she is not just talking about football in her coverage, she is also talking about human rights. (Getty Images)

Scott said: "I totally understand their reasons as well as a whole heap of fans from around the world from the LGBT+ community not wanting to travel here. Once again we referenced Gianni Infantino from what he said. You are not gay. You'll never understand travelling to a country where you are fearing for your life just because of your preference of who you choose to love.

"There's so much around this as well. To keep saying football is for everyone. That's what you keep feeding us with. We sit here and it’s not, because people have not been able to travel to watch their teams, to support their teams (out of fear) so you can’t say football is for everyone."

Infantino defended criticism of holding the event in Qatar at a press conference on the eve of the World Cup's opening game.

BBC TV Presenter and former football player Alex Scott is seen working in the stands during the International Friendly match between England and Canada at Bet365 Stadium on April 13, 2021 in Stoke on Trent, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Alex Scott is in Qatar presenting coverage of the 2022 World Cup for the BBC. (Getty Images)

He said: “Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arabic. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel [like] a migrant worker.

“Of course I am not Qatari, I am not an Arab, I am not African, I am not gay, I am not disabled. But I feel like it, because I know what it means to be discriminated, to be bullied, as a foreigner in a foreign country. As a child I was bullied – because I had red hair and freckles, plus I was Italian so imagine.

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“What do you do then? You try to engage, make friends. Don’t start accusing, fighting, insulting, you start engaging. And this is what we should be doing.”

Watch: FIFA president Gianni Infantino defends holding 2022 World Cup in Qatar