Jamie Carragher has backed friend Gary Neville after the Manchester United icon was grilled by journalist Ian Hislop on Have I Got News For You. Neville hosted the BBC panel show on Friday evening, and came under scrutiny for his involvement in the Qatar World Cup.
Private Eye editor Hislop questioned Neville on the former England defender’s decision to work for the Qatari state-backed television channel BeIN Sport during the winter tournament. Neville has been criticised for the choice having previously been a vocal critic of Qatar’s human rights record.
But Neville’s stint as a host on Have I Got News For You has been praised by Sky Sports sparring partner Carragher. The ex-Liverpool man points out that Neville went out of his comfort zone by appearing on the show.
“Well done @GNev2 hosting [Have I Got News For You] went out of his comfort zone & took a few blows but was still standing by the end!”
One tense exchange between Neville and Hislop was prompted by the regular panellist asking what the ‘defence’ was for working with BeIN Sport. Neville argued that he will be discussing Qatar’s poor human rights record when he is in the country.
Having discussed David Beckham’s ambassadorial role in Qatar, Hislop asked Neville: “The others have been very gentle with you Gary, but the elephant in the room is still there. You’re commentating there aren’t you? And what’s the defence?”
Neville replied: “You’ve got a choice I think, haven’t you?” Before Hislop interrupted: “What? Going or not going?” Neville then explained his decision and claimed that he was prepared to speak out on the country’s human rights issues, treatment of migrant workers and criminalisation of homosexuality.
“My view always has been that you either highlight the issues and challenges in these countries and speak about them, or you basically don’t say anything and you stay back home and don’t go,” Neville said. “And I always say we should challenge them.”
But Hislop bluntly pointed out that Neville had a third option of discussing such topics while not working for the state broadcaster. He jibed: “There’s another option, you stay at home and highlight the abuses. You don’t have to go and take the Qatari’s money. I am not trying to be tartan but it’s not a very good defence.”
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