Morgan took issue with the channel’s decision to not show the event, which included a divisive cameo from Morgan Freeman, in favour of reports on the controversy surrounding Qatar’s selection as host country.
Ahead of the first match, which was between Qatar and Ecuador, Lineker explained why the World Cup had become “the most controversial in history”.
He then led his fellow pundits Alex Scott, Ashley Williams and Alan Shearer in a discussion regarding workers’ rights and the country’s discriminatory laws against the LGBTQ+ community.
Morgan claimed that the BBC’s decision to lead on the controversy as opposed to the opening ceremony was “outrageously disrespecful to Qatar”.
He accused Lineker of “virtue signalling”, writing on Twitter: “Outrageously disrespectful to Qatar that the BBC didn’t broadcast the World Cup opening ceremony, and instead put out more virtue-signalling guff about how awful it is.
“If they’re that appalled, they should bring home their vast army of employees and spare us this absurd hypocrisy.”
However, in a response to Morgan’s rant, the BBC pointed out that they have not shown the opening ceremony of previous tournaments on the channel, either.
“Just like previous tournaments, we haven’t shown the opening ceremony on BBC One, “a spokesperson told The Independent, adding: “Full build up and coverage of the World Cup has been available across the BBC, including the opening ceremony on iPlayer.”
Earlier this month, Gary Neville was criticised while guest-hosting Have I Got News For You for his decision to travel to Qatar in order to commentate World Cup matches.
In a rare serious moment, panellist Ian Hislop questioned Neville, who told him: “Well, you’ve got a choice, I think, haven’t you?”
Hislop fired back: “What, going or not going?”
Neville defended his decision to to go to Qatar for work, stating: “My view always has been, you either highlight the issues and challenges in these countries, and speak about them, or you basically don’t say anything and stay back home, and don’t go. And I’ve always said we should challenge them.”
Hislop then told Neville: “There’s another option: you stay at home and highlight the abuses. You don’t have to go and take the Qataris’ money… It’s just not a very good defence.”