Egyptian sports commentator and retired soccer player Mohamed Aboutrika said during the November 29, 2022 coverage of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar on BeIN Sports TV (Qatar) that in today's world, sports cannot be separated from politics. He said that such a separation is a lie invented by the West and by FIFA. To demonstrate that sports are politicized, Aboutrika claimed that the EU wanted to "punish" Belarus for its support of Russia's war in Ukraine, while Israel is in the same group as Belarus in the 2024 qualifying tournament. He also said that the match between Iran and the U.S. is politicized, since the Iranians see America as Satan. For more about Mohamed Aboutrika, see MEMRI TV Clips Nos. 9210 and 8391.
Mohamed Aboutrika: "Let me discuss an issue that we Arabs are afraid to talk about. You cannot separate sports from politics. Separation between sports and politics is a lie invented by the West and FIFA, and we believe it. It is a lie invented by the West and FIFA, and we believe it. When does the West employ politics in sports, and when does it say: No, you cannot mix politics with sport? In the Russian war against Ukraine..."
Commentator: "That's where sport was politicized.."
Aboutrika: "Correct. The EU demanded that FIFA would punish Belarus because Belarus supports Russia in its war against Ukraine.
"Do you know who is in the same group with Belarus in the 2024 Euro qualifying tournament? The Zionist entity. Double standards are at play. And you are telling me that politics should not be mixed with sports...No. I am telling you that nowadays, nobody can separate sports from politics. This match [between the U.S. and Iran] is political, it is not about sports. Our studio should move to Al-Jazeera's news channel."
Commentator: "Someone told me that I should be replaced by [Al-Jazeera TV host] Faisal Qasem."
Aboutrika: "Of course. When you..."
Commentator: "You had enough of me?"
Aboutrika: "No, no...You cannot separate [politics and sports]. It's impossible. Today's match is of a political nature, whether we like it or not.
"In the Arab world, we cannot separate [politics from sports]. It is very hard. Event he Iranian national team...Forget about the Americans. Maybe they do not care about the political aspect, but the Iranians do. For Iran, America is Satan."