Gary Neville: Ofcom not pursuing complaints over Qatar comments

The former footballer called Qatari working conditions 'abhorrent'

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 13: Pundit Gary Neville prior to the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Leeds United at Villa Park on January 13, 2023 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images)
Gary Neville made comments relating to workers rights live on ITV. (Getty Images)

Ofcom have confirmed they will not pursue complaints against Gary Neville relating to comments he made about Qatar during the World Cup.

Neville made a number of unscripted remarks during ITV's broadcast of the World Cup final relating to politics in the gulf country and also the UK.

Ofcom said the remarks — which aired live - were part of "a wider discussion about policies and actions of the Qatari Government, which gave due weight to a range of views".

Read more: Gary Neville calls out Boris Johnson over racist abuse of England players

The former Manchester United footballer had called working conditions in Qatar "abhorrent" as the country came under criticism for the number of deaths of migrant workers during the building of stadiums for the tournament.

LUSAIL CITY, QATAR - DECEMBER 18: FIFA President Gianni Infantino (L) and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, present the FIFA World Cup trophy to Lionel Messi of Argentina following the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final match between Argentina and France at Lusail Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. (Photo by Stephen McCarthy - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
FIFA President Gianni Infantino (L) and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, present the FIFA World Cup trophy to Lionel Messi of Argentina. (Getty Images)

Neville also attacked the British government and accused them of "demonising" striking workers in the rail and healthcare industries.

Talking about the treatment of workers around the world, Neville said: "It's abhorrent and we should detest low pay, detest low pay, poor accommodation and poor working conditions. That is something we can never ever accept in this region or in any region."

He added: "It is just worth mentioning that we've got a current government in our country, who are demonising rail workers, ambulance workers and terrifyingly, nurses. So in our country, we've got to look at workers' rights but certainly where football goes now, we have to pick up on workers' rights wherever we go because people have to be equally treated."

LONDON - SEPTEMBER 28:  Ruud van Nistelrooy celebrates after scoring with Gary Neville and Rio Ferdinand during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Charlton Athletic v Manchester United at The Valley on September 28, 2002 in London. Charlton Athletic 1 Manchester United 2.  (Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)
Ruud van Nistelrooy celebrates with Gary Neville and Rio Ferdinand during a Premiership match, 2002. (Getty Images)

Arguing for better conditions and better pay, Neville concluded by saying: "We can't have people being paid a pittance to work, we can't have people in accommodation which is unsavoury and disgusting, we can't have that. It shouldn't happen with the wealth that exists and it shouldn't happen in our country that our nurses are having to fight for an extra pound or two pounds."

Ofcom received 705 complaints from viewers who objected to Neville's comments.

Ofcom also said they had "given guidance to ITV reminding them of their due impartiality obligations" and added: "ITV has assured us that presenters and studio guests will be reminded of these rules."

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