King Kylian v Prince Harry: how French media sees the World Cup quarter-final | World Cup 2022

For a country that sent its king and queen to the guillotine France has an enduring and surprising fascination for the monarchy. So it is no surprise that Saturday’s quarter-final between England and France is being seen as a royal duel between King Kylian and Prince Harry.

After Sunday’s matches set the scene for a battle between the two countries – historic rivals on and off the pitch despite the Entente Cordiale – Eurosport carried a picture of Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappé and declared: “The quarter-final on Saturday will have an unusual flavour: for the first time in history the French team and the English team will cross swords in a direct elimination match”.

France Info headlined with France meeting its “best enemy” and “Prince Harry” referring to Kane making the “French kingdom tremble”.

Quick Guide

Qatar: beyond the football


This is a World Cup like no other. For the last 12 years the Guardian has been reporting on the issues surrounding Qatar 2022, from corruption and human rights abuses to the treatment of migrant workers and discriminatory laws. The best of our journalism is gathered on our dedicated Qatar: Beyond the Football home page for those who want to go deeper into the issues beyond the pitch.

Guardian reporting goes far beyond what happens on the pitch. Support our investigative journalism today.

Photograph: Caspar Benson

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No reference to the Anglo-French rivalry is complete without a reference to “perfidious Albion” and France Info did not disappoint. “Between France and England, [football] history dates back more than a century to the first match on 1 November 1906 [which England won 15-0],” it said.

“Since then, Perfidious Albion have won 23 of the 40 official duels, with 11 victories for the French and six draws. But 16 of these successes were achieved before the war … In the 21st century, Les Bleus have won four of the six encounters, with one defeat and one draw. And while this match has become a European classic, it will be the first time the two nations have faced each other in an international tournament’s decisive match.”

L’Équipe carried a photo of Mbappé with the headline: “God Save Notre [Our] King”. The French crown should have been shared with Olivier Giroud, who became France’s leading goalscorer after Sunday’s match against Poland when he recorded his 52nd and surpassed the 13-year-old record set by Thierry Henry.

The regional newspaper Sud-Ouest asked if Les Bleus were “prêts à manger du lion”, ready to eat the Lions, while Le Figaro said facing England could be France’s first serious challenge. “For those who thought that the French team’s journey so far was too easy, it is possible that they will change their minds next Saturday, on the occasion of a quarter-final between Les Bleus and England, which is as explosive as it is attractive .

“The two teams have not faced each other since 13 June 2017, when Didier Deschamps’ men got the better of the Three Lions in a friendly match at the Stade de France. But in five years, a lot of water has flowed under the bridges of the Seine and the Thames. Since the start of the competition, both teams have impressed … this means that both Les Bleus and the Three Lions will have plenty of confidence going into the quarter-final.”

Many French commentators relayed remarks from across the Channel indicating admiration – some saw fear – of Mbappé. The football website said he was “already causing “deep concern” in the England camp.

England’s Phil Foden told TF1 that Mbappé is “the player of the tournament until now” and his teammate Jordan Henderson told Belgian journalists he was “probably the best player in the world right now, with Messi”. French journalists relayed how Sky Sports had referred to “the Mbappé threat”.

King Mbappé, who has earned the French Football Federation a €10,000 fine from Fifa for refusing to speak to the press, broke his silence after Sunday’s victory to declare: “My sole aim is to win the World Cup … and the next match. It’s the only thing I dream about.”

In the other realm, Prince Harry has the same goal.

Fox Sports’ US World Cup coverage is an unmissable abomination | World Cup 2022

The World Cup! A tournament of frenzied emotion, spectacular goals, heroic upsets, and grand displays of athletic daring and skill. Or, if you’re watching it in the US: four weeks of shouting, relentless commercial promotion, disorienting cuts and changes of channel to make way for the college football game, and segments in which Alexi Lalas does pump-up speeches for the US team that no one in the US team will ever listen to; a global exhibition of Clint Dempsey’s ongoing quest to assemble vowels and consonants into an order that resembles words; a month-long celebration of the festival that is Landon Donovan’s personality.

At a time when things are clicking on the pitch for the US men’s national team and America finally has a generation of footballers with the technical quality to challenge the world’s best, there’s been something faintly reassuring about Fox Sports’ approach to this tournament. Whereas the USMNT is now a cosmopolitan ensemble of feather-fine talents, the Fox team is the equivalent of a farmers’ league XI that hoofs it long and hopes for the best.

Quick Guide

Qatar: beyond the football


This is a World Cup like no other. For the last 12 years the Guardian has been reporting on the issues surrounding Qatar 2022, from corruption and human rights abuses to the treatment of migrant workers and discriminatory laws. The best of our journalism is gathered on our dedicated Qatar: Beyond the Football home page for those who want to go deeper into the issues beyond the pitch.

Guardian reporting goes far beyond what happens on the pitch. Support our investigative journalism today.

Photograph: Caspar Benson

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Four years on from the dumbumvirate debacle of its coverage in Russia, Fox is back, and worse than ever. In a world of so much flux, in which so many human connections seem so ephemeral, Fox’s commitment to a losing team – Squeaky Stuey Holden on the match call, Lalas spouting nonsense on set, and Rob Stone holding the whole thing together with the desperate energy of a dad using his daughter’s 18th birthday celebration as a showcase for his own comedic talent – is something we can all get behind.

From the moment that Stone called Doha “Dosa” ahead of the opening match – between the capital of a small oil state on the Gulf and a fermented south Indian pancake, who’s really insisting on the distinction? – then promptly vanished from Fox’s coverage for the next three days, the US host English-language broadcaster of this World Cup has offered up a feast of gaffes, stupidity, and unconquerable on-air awkwardness for American viewers to enjoy. (The official explanation for Stone’s disappearance was that he lost his voice, but it’s possible he’d simply wandered off in search of a snack.) Things are, I’m reliably told, far better over on Telemundo, but those of us without the Spanish skills to appreciate the full vocal exuberance of that channel’s commentators are stuck with Fox. The only solution has been to embrace the misery.

Off-field controversy has clouded this tournament from the day Sepp Blatter pulled Qatar’s name out of the envelope in 2010, but you wouldn’t know anything about that from watching Fox. The BBC relegated the opening ceremony to an online-only stream, preferring instead to air a long report on Qatari human rights abuses. Fox went in completely the opposite direction, airing the whole ceremony and following up with “a look at exploring Qatar, sponsored by the Qatar Foundation”. Many have taken Fox to task for glossing over the rottenness at the heart of this tournament – its legacy of crass commercialization and death. But to be fair, this is not the first time that a group of Americans has blundered into a country in the Middle East without bothering to fully educate itself about the facts on the ground first. The correspondences between American military adventurism and international sports broadcasting may be faint, but the Fox crew has done its best to bring them to the forefront, applying the can-do spirit of Iraq 2003 to its coverage of Qatar 2022.

The acute ambivalence that many throughout the footballing world – including in America – feel about this tournament has been nowhere on display. Nuance, political context, a sense of proportion about a sporting project built on exploitation and influence peddling: all have been lost amid Fox’s non-stop on-air bonfire of jingoism and untroubled uplift. Even by their elevated standards, Rob Stone and co have outdone themselves this World Cup, chuntering and blundering around their Doha base with all the charm and worldliness of a set of Bush administration foreign policy officials.

In these circumstances you might expect Fox’s coverage of the matches, untroubled by politics, to be razor-sharp. You would be mistaken. From its Orientalist redoubt on the Doha Corniche (Arabesque motifs, casino lighting, no actual Arabs unless they’re from the Qatari tourism agency), the Fox team has set about its task with vigor: to beam all the tournament matches into the living rooms of America while being maximally patronizing to the country’s soccer fans. In those rare moments when Fox is not jamming a brand down our throats (“Here’s the player to watch segment, presented by Coca-Cola”, “Your first-half moment, sponsored by Verizon”, “Our player spotlight is hosted by the Volkswagen ID.4”), the network’s hosts, analysts, and match commentators seem determined to mansplain the sport as if we, the soccer-watching public of the United States, have spent the past four decades with our heads in the desert sands surrounding Lusail Iconic Stadium.

Insults to our collective intelligence have come from all angles: the constant, tedious analogies to American sports (stepovers and feints described as “dekes” and “hesis”, corners constantly compared to “pick and rolls”); the neverending quest to “contextualize” the world game by comparing whole countries to American states (“Qatar is the size of Connecticut,” we were told repeatedly on the opening day); the network’s embrace and promotion of the interminable “it’s called soccer” cause (who cares?); the strange extended segment in the run-up to USA v England about how much Harry Kane likes American football (ditto); the employment of Piers Morgan as a special guest pundit (no thanks).

On the field things may be developing nicely, but off it US football – or the version of it that Fox Sports serves up to us every four years – seems destined to remain stuck in a permanent 1994, forever on the brink of becoming America’s next big thing, forever hostage to a cabal of C-suite cable bros intent on translating this exotic, bewildering sport into the language of touchdowns, home runs, and alley oops for what they see as the country’s blinking, insular Yankee Doodle millions. This bizarre cultural parochialism does a disservice to both America’s players, now a sizeable constituency in European club football, and the legions of fans on these shores whose understanding of the sport is every bit as sophisticated as anything you’ll find on the terraces of Camp Nou, Anfield, or La Bombonera.

The Fox Sports crew get ready for their trip to Qatar before the World Cup
The Fox Sports crew get ready for their trip to Qatar before the World Cup. Photograph: Fox

Take a moment to appreciate the full dizzying scope of Fox’s witlessness in Qatar. After Rob Stone noted, in the lead-up to the group match between Brazil and Serbia, that the Brazilians have won the World Cup five times – perhaps the most widely known World Cup statistic of all – a wide-eyed Dempsey exclaimed, “Wow, you really did your research!” During France v Denmark, match commentator JP Dellacamera described Kylian Mbappé as “a kid who’s 23 and already the whole world is talking about him,” an evaluation whose awestruck “already” suggested that JP has watched close to no football over the past half decade. Donovan started the tournament pronouncing Iran “Eye-ran”, witnessed Tyler Adams being corrected by an Iranian journalist for mispronouncing his country’s name – then continued to call the country “Eye-ran”.

Indeed the mispronunciation of foreign names – stadiums, players, whatever – has become a running joke on Fox’s Corniche set. Asked to offer a prediction before the US match against England, Lalas thundered, “I don’t know how they say it in the King’s English but dose a seero my friends to the USA,” helpfully demonstrating that he doesn’t know how to say “dos a cero” in the King’s Spanish either.

In a big tournament you always want your biggest players to show up, and Lalas, who often gives the impression that he’s being paid by the decibel, has not let the Fox team down this Mundial. From his post at the end of the panel, the big man in the Maga-lite suit has delivered his signature rants with all the enthusiasm of someone who’s blown past the discomfort of knowing that no one else on set finds him interesting or funny. Player rating: 10 out of 10. In support, Dempsey has been dim but fundamentally lovable, Dr Joe Machnik has brought all the authority of his credentials as a non-medical doctor (he has a PhD) and member of the Connecticut Soccer Association Hall of Fame to bear on the important task of quoting verbatim from the laws of the game, and Stu Holden still hasn’t stopped talking from America’s opening match.

Donovan, meanwhile, has pulled off the impressive trick of being both exceptionally boring and weirdly aggressive. In a sport that thrives on innovation, Donovan has developed a kind of anti-chemistry in his rapport with English co-commentator Ian Darke – built on dead air, the flat affect of a Benzoed accountant, and negging (sample own from the Spain v Costa Rica match: “Seven nil looks like an NFL score – you wouldn’t know anything about that Ian”) – that feels genuinely fresh.

Meanwhile, all of Fox’s decent commentators have been tucked away on relative World Cup obscurities like the Netherlands v Ecuador or Australia v Tunisia. Bright spots have been sparse. John Strong enjoyably described Cristiano Ronaldo’s attempt to claim a Bruno Fernandes goal as his own in Portugal v Uruguay as “a hairspray goal if anything”. Maurice Edu has been quietly impressive, offering astute mid-match analysis while eschewing the kind of reductive caricatures that often mar Fox’s coverage of encounters involving the less fancied football nations.

A special word, also, must go to Kate Abdo. Abdo is a great enabler of the hijinks and self-deprecating silliness that make CBS’s coverage of the Champions League so enjoyable. Here, however, as host of Fox’s World Cup Tonight show, she has had to contend with the sentient televisual own goal that is “American soccer fan Chad Ochocinco”. Ochocinco, a former wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, has for some reason been asked to document his fan experience for Fox at this World Cup – a brief that has yielded such insights as “I liked the game today”, “Ronaldo is my man”, and the 30 seconds of confused silence that consumed Ochocinco after Abdo made a gentle joke about Carlo Ancelotti’s eyebrows. I haven’t tested this thesis exhaustively, but “get all of Chad Ochocinco’s fan experience by downloading the Fox Sports app” – repeated ad nauseam throughout Fox’s telecast – seems a good candidate for the collection of words in the English language least likely to induce the average American TV viewer to download the Fox Sports app.

There’s something almost religious about the experience of watching Ochocinco front up, night after night, with virtually nothing to say about the World Cup or the wildly popular sport it’s based on. That this man, despite possessing no charisma, sense of humor, or gift for sporting analysis, has managed to land a gig as the resident personality on Fox’s “fun” nightly wrap-up show represents its own kind of miracle, a wine-into-water moment for the Fox casting crew.

And this, perhaps, reveals the true genius of the Murdoch empire’s 4D chess, its dark and accidental power: Fox’s coverage of the World Cup is so bad it’s become unmissable. Almost as much as it is an opportunity to watch Mbappé blitz down the left wing or the Brazilian front-five tear opposition defenses to shreds, this World Cup tempts us with the fascination of Fox’s abomination. Glued to the screen by the promise of another Dellacamera insight that’s dead on arrival or a fresh Donovan dunk on Darke, we simply can’t look away. I’d offer more on this point but Lalas is about to do his World Cup power rankings, and nothing gets between me and my daily appointment with Lexi on the Doha disco tiles.

Queiroz tells Klinsmann to resign and visit Iran camp after BBC comments | World Cup 2022

Carlos Queiroz has demanded Jürgen Klinsmann resign from his role on Fifa’s technical study group after calling his comments about the Iran team “a disgrace to football”.

After Friday’s 2-0 win over Wales, the BBC presenter Gabby Logan talked about Iran’s “gamesmanship” and said they just stayed on the right side of the law before handing over to Klinsmann. “Yes, that’s their culture,” he said. “Their way of doing it, and that is why Carlos Queiroz fits really well [with] the Iranian national team.”

The former Germany international added: “[Queiroz] struggled in South America, he failed to qualify with Colombia and then he failed with Egypt to qualify and then he went back and guided Iran, who he worked already with for a long, long time. So this is not by coincidence, this is done on purpose.

“This is just part of their culture and how they play, then they work the referee, you saw the bench always jumping up, working the fourth official and the linesman, constantly in their ears, constantly in your face. Kieffer Moore will probably tell you more after the game about little incidents that we didn’t see.”

On Saturday evening Queiroz was moved to respond to Klinsmann in a series of tweets in which it was clear the Iran manager was furious. “No matter how much I can respect what you did inside the pitch, those remarks about Iran Culture, Iran National Team and my Players are a disgrace to football,” he said.

“Nobody can hurt our integrity if it is not at our level, of course. Even saying so, we would like to invite you as our guest, to come to our national team camp, socialise with Iran players and learn from them about the country, the people of Iran, the poets and art, the algebra, all the millennial Persian culture. And also listen from our players how much they love and respect football.”

“As [an] American/German, we understand you’re no supporter. No problem. And despite your outrageous remarks on BBC trying to undermine our efforts, sacrifices and skills, we promise you that we will not produce any judgments regarding your culture, roots and background and that you will always be welcome to our family.”

Quick Guide

Qatar: beyond the football


This is a World Cup like no other. For the last 12 years the Guardian has been reporting on the issues surrounding Qatar 2022, from corruption and human rights abuses to the treatment of migrant workers and discriminatory laws. The best of our journalism is gathered on our dedicated Qatar: Beyond the Football home page for those who want to go deeper into the issues beyond the pitch.

Guardian reporting goes far beyond what happens on the pitch. Support our investigative journalism today.

Thank you for your feedback.

Queiroz then called into question Klinsmann’s official role with Fifa. “At the same time, we just want to follow with full attention what will be the decision of Fifa regarding your position as a member of Qatar 2022 Technical Study Group. Because, obviously, we expect you to resign before you visit our camp.”

Iran’s players have faced huge pressure because of political unrest at home and face the USA in their final group game on Tuesday knowing a win will ensure qualification to the World Cup knockout stage for the first time in their history.

Legends of the fall: pundits bring cold comfort to World Cup viewers | World Cup 2022

There’s a perception that working in the media is glamorous, especially when it comes to covering massive cultural and sporting events. Well, my first involvement with Glastonbury as a journalist was live-blogging it from an office, and it’s an absolute pleasure to be bringing you coverage of the World Cup from my kitchen. As someone who is, according to Qatari World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman, “damaged in the mind”, this is probably for the best.

Usually, watching the home nations from the home nations during big tournaments means bagsying pub‑garden tables alongside fans with England flag face-paint sweated off into strawberry swirls. The Tartan Army teaming tracksuit tops with kilts. Wales supporters quoting Michael Sheen’s rousing speech from The Last Leg. And, though we’ve collectively tried to forget, observing men with flares up their arses.

Not this time. This time, despite being indoors, I am watching the football wearing a beanie hat. It is dark outside. In Doha it is 28C; here it’s 7C. But, though much about this tournament is unfamiliar, one thing will never change: the great BBC versus ITV debate. Which has the better title credits? Who are the best pundits? Will a co-commentator butcher a player’s name to levels not seen since John Travolta called Idina Menzel “Adele Dazeem”? It’s a competition in itself. The ad-free Beeb often routs its commercial rival, but Euros 2020 (aka Euros 2021) saw a standout ITV performance – though was thumped in the viewing figures when the broadcasters went head-to-head in the final.

Quick Guide

Qatar: beyond the football


This is a World Cup like no other. For the last 12 years the Guardian has been reporting on the issues surrounding Qatar 2022, from corruption and human rights abuses to the treatment of migrant workers and discriminatory laws. The best of our journalism is gathered on our dedicated Qatar: Beyond the Football home page for those who want to go deeper into the issues beyond the pitch.

Guardian reporting goes far beyond what happens on the pitch. Support our investigative journalism today.

Thank you for your feedback.

On Monday afternoon the BBC brought us England’s debut against Iran, although the channel’s coverage had kicked off on Sunday with the tournament’s opening ceremony. Or rather, not with the tournament’s opening ceremony – which was relegated to iPlayer.

Instead Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, Alex Scott and Ashley Williams focused on criticism of the host nation. The rife corruption surrounding its bid; the abhorrent treatment of migrant workers who built the stadiums; LGBTQ and women’s rights, or lack thereof. Lineker’s will probably be the most shared opening monologue since Emily Maitlis’s Newsnight evisceration of the government’s handling of the pandemic. Naturally, many on Twitter bemoaned that Lineker and co, employed by the British Broadcasting Corporation, were hypocrites for “taking the Qataris’ money”. Which once again makes me consider that universal franchise should be replaced with some kind of basic aptitude test.

For the England game it was Rio Ferdinand and Micah Richards who joined Lineker and Shearer on the tournament’s muted set, decorated white and what I would describe as burgundy but people will email in to say is maroon. A complete contrast, then, to the title credits produced by Edinburgh-based Studio Something who presumably were all off their face on drugs at the time. I quite like them. They’re raucous and boldly coloured, and a grinding chant of HERE WE GO means that every single grandparent in the country will mute them instantly. Speaking of noise, thankfully the squeaky chair issue of the previous evening had been fixed.

We’ve only gone and made the BBC World Cup titles!

As massive fans of football, design and funky music we are incredibly privileged to have been handed the opportunity to make a sequence that will be watched by millions this winter.

Here it is in all its glory.

— Studio Something (@s0methingsays) November 20, 2022

The big talking point of the day was how Fifa had threatened teams who had planned to wear the OneLove armband with a booking – clearly Gianni Infantino no longer felt gay. The teams backed down. Scott displayed class when she wore the armband pitchside at half‑time, talking to Kelly Somers. (Never mind that the OneLove armband is quite crap – just wear an actual full-rainbow armband if you want to show solidarity; but to then not wear it because it might be punitive, which is literally how sticking to principles work, is quite something)

Guy Mowbray and, in my opinion, the unfairly maligned Jermaine Jenas were in the commentary booth, and did well given the game was stopped for approximately 94 hours when the Iran keeper Alireza Beiranvand was left prone on the turf after a horrific clash of heads with his defender. Mowbray winced and declared: “I don’t think we need to see that again”, as the director replayed it from four angles. The rest of their job – and that of the in-studio gang – was a doddle, given that England scored an excellent six goals and put in a good performance all round.

ITV made its bow with the day’s second fixture: Senegal against Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands. I watched on ITVHub which – along with people who write “thank you” as one word – has served as the bane of my existence. I don’t really know about the sort of torture metered out to dissenters in various autocratic countries around the world, but forcing them to watch ITVHub would be a good shout. This time, however, it worked fine for me, and a source tells me (ie, my friend Josh) that the newer, sleeker ITV X also behaved.

Ian Wright, Gary Neville, Nigel de Jong and Laura Woods in ITV’s World Cup studio
Ian Wright, Gary Neville, Nigel de Jong and Laura Woods (left to right) in ITV’s World Cup studio. Photograph: ITV

ITV’s titles were kind of sweet, if a bit random. An animated sequence of teams making their way to the desert, variously via rowing boat (England), super‑yacht (Cristiano Ronaldo, obviously), horses, hot air balloons etc. In reality, it has been private jets flying to an event which has a carbon footprint of 3.6 million tons. The studio set design had continuity from the titles, bringing over the hot air balloons to its backdrop. But the balloons over undulating sand dunes was giving Windows screensaver vibes, or the pre-set photos on a Canon.

Laura Woods, hosting, was joined by Nigel de Jong, Rio Ferdinand, and Gary Neville (who has had criticism for taking actual Qatari money for his work with BeIn Sports). All were proficient analysers before kick‑off and at half‑time, but the real treat was the commentary. On duty were champion duo Jon Champion (sorry) and Ally McCoist. Champion and McCoist team up for the odd Premier League game on Amazon Prime, and they are an indefatigable joy. McCoist is so enthusiastic about everything, has such golden retriever energy, that, during what was objectively a game drier than the Khor Al Adaid, Champion ventured so tentatively: “I know you’re enjoying the nuances, but am I allowed to say it’s been slightly pedestrian?” McCoist conceded that it had been.

To wrap up, and sticking with ITV, Gareth Bale led the charge for Wales against USA. Two teams who had also broken their pledge to wear the OneLove armbands. Bravo for Eni Aluko’s pro-take on the armband, and for Roy Keane who, when asked by the host Mark Pougatch about the situation, said: “I think the players could have worn it for the first game, that would have been a great statement.” Also in the studio was the former Welsh international Hal Robson-Kanu, with Clive Tyldesley and John Hartson on comms. Perfectly serviceable on an evening which brought a 1-1 draw for Rob Page’s men, but a bit of a comedown after the exuberance of McCoist.

If this World Cup feels weird and uncomfortable enough as it is – and here it should be made clear that Qatar isn’t the only nation that treats migrants appallingly, hello to Southampton fan Rishi Sunak – the experience of watching on the sofa with a hot water bottle and an Earl Grey tea, instead of a deck chair and a cool glass of something clinking with ice, just isn’t the same. McCoist would still be happy, though.

US viewers accuse Fox Sports of ‘shilling for Qatar’ amid glowing World Cup coverage | World Cup 2022

US viewers have criticized Fox Sports after its broadcast of the opening day of the World Cup ignored the host country’s human rights record

Qatar has been attacked for its treatment of migrant workers, allegations of corruption in the bidding process for the tournament and its record on LGBTQ and women’s rights. Broadcasters such as the BBC and Telemundo chose to highlight those concerns in their coverage of the first day of the tournament, where the hosts lost to Ecuador after a labish opening ceremony that included contributions from Morgan Freeman and Jungkook from BTS.

“It’s 64 Super Bowls in 29 days… This is a once in a lifetime opportunity where people will come and celebrate football.” @JennyTaft speaks with Secretary General of the Supreme Committee Hassan Al-Thawadi before the opening match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup

— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 20, 2022

In contrast, Fox heaped praise on everything from the air-conditioning in the Al Bayt Stadium to the variety of food available to fans to the “very welcoming” secretary general of Qatar’s World Cup committee, Hassan Al-Thawadi. A puff piece with Al-Thawadi followed in which he was allowed to speak in glowing terms about the World Cup with no questions from interviewer Jenny Taft about concerns raised by journalists and human rights groups.

This is how BBC opened coverage of World Cup 2022. Stark contrast to Fox Coverage in United States. Please take a minute to watch. This is how this World Cup should be contextualized 🙌

— roger bennett (@rogbennett) November 20, 2022

Roger Bennett, the influential co-host of the Men In Blazers podcast, posted a clip of the BBC’s coverage and wrote: “This is how BBC opened coverage of World Cup 2022. Stark contrast to Fox Coverage in United States. Please take a minute to watch. This is how this World Cup should be contextualized.”

Grant Wahl, arguably the most prominent soccer journalist in the US, also tweeted a link to the BBC’s opening day coverage and wrote: “Big contrast between the Qatar regime-aligned coverage in the United States on Fox Sports and the coverage on the UK rights-holder.”

Other viewers on Twitter asked Fox to “chill out on the propaganda” and to stop “shilling for Qatar”.

In the lead-up to the World Cup, Fox’s executive producer said he did not believe viewers wanted to be distracted by off-field issues during the tournament.

“We really believe viewers come to us at Fox Sports for the World Cup to see the World Cup,” he said. Qatar Airways, the country’s state-owned airline, is a major sponsor of Fox’s World Cup coverage.

In contrast, Telemundo, which owns the Spanish language broadcast rights for the World Cup in the US, said it intended to take a stronger line than Fox.

“I do think we have to talk about the legacy we leave. By the time the tournament’s over, we [won’t have been] ignoring the geopolitical issues that might arise,” said Telemundo Deportes president Ray Warren.

The US team at the World Cup have made a striking, if subtle, statement about their views. They have prominently displayed a rainbow logo at the team’s training facility in a country where homosexuality is illegal.

“It is not just Stateside that we want to bring attention to social issues, it is also abroad,” said US head coach Gregg Berhalter this week. “We recognize that Qatar has made strides and there has been a ton of progress but there’s some work still to do.”

Twitter may not cope with World Cup abuse, says Kick It Out chair | Twitter

The chair of the anti-discrimination body Kick It Out has voiced fears that Twitter will be unable to cope with online abuse during the football World Cup, after a wave of job losses at the social media platform.

Sanjay Bhandari said he was deeply concerned by reports of cuts in the trust and safety team at Twitter, as well as the departure of the executive in charge of the department.

“I am deeply concerned that the reduction in the trust and safety team and the departure of the leader of that team will be taken as a bright green light for hate,” said Bhandari. “I fear that industrial-scale levels of hate during the World Cup will go unchecked by Twitter.”

Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, axed approximately 50% of Twitter’s 7,500-strong workforce this month. In the wake of the firings, Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, said 15% of his team had been let go.

Roth left the company soon after. Last weekend, more than 4,000 Twitter contractors, including people who worked on content moderation, reportedly had their roles terminated.

Overnight, there were reports of widespread resignations among the remaining 3,700 staff at Twitter after Musk set a 10pm GMT deadline for workers to commit to being “extremely hardcore” or else leave with three months’ severance pay.

Bhandari said moderation on Twitter had been “been opaque, inconsistent and understaffed at the best of times”, and he was concerned that the platform would struggle to cope with a rise in user engagement among football fans after the World Cup begins on Sunday.

Before Roth departed, he said, Twitter had been subjected to a coordinated trolling campaign that bombarded the platform with abusive content in an apparent attempt to convince users that it had relaxed content guidelines.

A recent study revealed that more than 300 abusive tweets a day are sent to Premier League footballers, and nearly seven in 10 players receive abuse on Twitter. The research by the Alan Turing Institute, the national institute for data science and artificial intelligence, found that 60,000 abusive tweets were directed towards Premier League players in the first half of last season.

One of the authors of the report said Twitter’s ability to deal with abuse of footballers could be affected by the jobs cuts.

“We are aware that Twitter are working with a smaller workforce,” said Pica Johansson, a researcher in the online safety team at the institute. “And there might be, for that reason, less ability for them to respond quickly to some of this type of abuse that we do see.”

The institute’s research found that less than 10% of the abusive tweets were identity attacks that referred to a protected characteristic such as race, gender or sexuality. However, Hannah Kirk, an online safety researcher at the institute, said racist or nationality-based abuse might be more prevalent at the World Cup.

“I envisage the big difference between the Premier League and the World Cup is global attention and also heightened awareness of nationalism, which potentially intensifies the stereotypical links between race and nation. We might then see a little bit more racism or nationality-directed abuse than we would in the Premier League,” Kirk said.

Nonetheless, the Football Association is confident it will be able to act if Twitter becomes a focus for abuse of its players, as it did during last year’s European championships.

Football bodies within England established a fast-track reporting system last year, and the FA has confirmed with Twitter that the same support will be available in the coming month and that resources will be made available for moderation.

The FA also uses third-party agencies to monitor for abuse and report on its behalf. This week, Fifa and the international players’ union Fifpro announced a similar scheme, a “social media protection service” (SMPS) that would be available to players in all 32 nations competing at the World Cup.

Allowing for the scanning and reporting of offensive content, the SMPS will also let players with social media accounts automatically hide comments that are judged offensive. This service will apply only to posts on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, with Twitter understood to have been excluded from the process owing to technical issues.

Twitter has been approached for comment.

Micah Richards: ‘I’m just having fun, watching football with friends. People relate to that’ | Football

Soon after Micah Richards bursts into the room, with booming laughter, the former England footballer shows a different side to his character. His sadness after his soaring career faded and then ended, when he was just 31, is accompanied by acceptance. “I can hardly walk now because of my knee but I wouldn’t change it,” Richards says of the injury that ruined his life as a footballer. It began with giddy promise when he made his international debut as England’s youngest-ever defender at 18 but, as Richards insists now, “I would sacrifice everything for football. I know that sounds ridiculous, and I should have a knee replacement, but I wouldn’t change a thing. That shows my devotion to football.”

Richards, who is 34, smiles and spreads his hands as if embracing his second life as a successful pundit. “Everyone knows that without football I wouldn’t be anything,” he says.

From Chapeltown in Leeds, he was the boy whose talent meant that, at 17, he was taken to expensive restaurants and strip clubs by agents desperate to seize control of his career. Richards was a youthful sensation at Manchester City before, as money transformed the club, the dressing room became a soap opera, with combustible characters including Robinho, Craig Bellamy, Mario Balotelli, Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor, Yaya Touré and Samir Nasri.

Richards had an excellent season when City won their first Premier League title in 2012. But, by the time of the dramatic last game, when Sergio Agüero’s 94th-minute goal made them champions, he was on the bench with his best days behind him. Richards’s dying days as a footballer were at Aston Villa where forlorn attempts to restore his damaged knee left him seriously depressed.

He has since discovered a new life as a media star, who is so entertaining that even Roy Keane can’t help cracking a smile as their surreal bromance continues. “I get nothing but love on social media these days,” he says, “and it’s because I don’t play the victim. I’m just having fun like a normal guy, down the pub, watching football with friends. People relate to that.”

Richards is also an author as, with the help of Rory Smith, he is about to release an immensely readable book which takes us deep inside the strange and often unhinged hidden life of a Premier League footballer. His fame is so obvious that, outside the London hotel where we meet, Richards is greeted by beaming people who seem to regard him as a close friend. “Don’t forget I do Match of the Day, which is seen by three million [viewers] a week, and Super Sunday on Sky, which is a million-and-a-half to two million,” he says. “I do CBS in America, a podcast, radio and the adverts on Sky.”

Yet the privileges of fame cannot soften the reality of being black in Britain. He reveals calmly that he is often pulled over by the police when he goes home to Chapeltown. “I still get stopped now. When they see me they’re like: ‘Oh …!’ They’re obviously embarrassed and say: ‘I like seeing you on TV.’ I’m like: ‘No, why are you pulling me over?’ They can’t really answer so they’ll say something like: ‘Your car’s coming up uninsured.’ I’m like: ‘That’s funny because I’ve got the documents here and it’s clearly my car.’ I don’t like it when they lie. Just be honest.’”

Micah Richards with Roy Keane
Micah Richards says of his fellow Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane: ‘Roy’s an absolute diamond. At first he seems standoffish but he’s the sweetest, humblest person you’ll ever meet.’ Photograph: Tom Jenkins/NMC Pool/The Guardian

It’s disconcerting to imagine how Richards would be treated without the buffer of celebrity. “Exactly. As soon as I wind down the window, the look in their eyes shows all this sinking in.” Does he give them a hard time about racial harassment? “It depends what the officer is like. If they’re new and they’ve been given a narrative about Chapeltown you allow them a break. If it’s an old one trying to be nasty, I make sure they feel bad. But I want people to see me in a positive light so they can say: ‘Actually, this narrative of aggressive black people is wrong. Micah’s from a tough area and he’s always happy.’ Yeah, I can go deep. I did a documentary on racism that’s got awards. But when you go too much that side, it can work against you. I want to show people you can be happy and be from Chapeltown.”

Richards’s prodigious rise as a teenager meant he was “thrown into this world where it’s absolute madness and everyone’s treating you like some superstar”. He grimaces when I say it must have been bizarre, at such a young age, to be taken to a strip club by a middle-aged agent. “It’s seedy, isn’t it? If you did that now you could go to jail. We didn’t have money but I was fine. Then someone turns up in a Ferrari one week, a Porsche the next, and he’s buying you boots and taking you for a fancy meal. You just go along with it.”

He was fortunate his father was strong and stopped him from being snared by the most unscrupulous agents. But for Richards, “the word ‘agent’ triggers me. There are good agents but my experiences were traumatising.”

Richards lost perspective, “going from £500 to 50 grand a week in 18 months. You’re just a kid and suddenly you’ve got a cleaner, you’re buying a house with a pool for £3m. I was driving an Aston Martin at 19, but I’m only human and anyone in my position probably would have done the same. Me and James Milner both bought Ferraris on the same day. We parked behind each other but only mine was in the paper. It felt ridiculous.”

His book shows how difficult it is for young players breaking into Premier League squads. “Honestly,” he says of some senior pros, “they’re horrible. It’s like borderline bullying – that’s how bad it is. I had great old pros like Richard Dunne, who walked me through every game, but I was the only one from City in the England squad and some didn’t like it.”

Micah Richards heads England’s third goal in a 3-0 Euro 2008 qualification game against Israel at Wembley
Micah Richards (centre) heads in to score England’s third in a 3-0 Euro 2008 qualification game against Israel at Wembley. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Richards thrived under Roberto Mancini at City, but “it became really hard when I went from this superstar teenager to being not good enough for England. The self-doubt came in.” As his England manager, Fabio Capello was “the strictest man in the world”, “horrible” and, “honest to God, an idiot”.

Richards tells riotous anecdotes about Mancini’s tumultuous interaction with Balotelli, Tevez and Nasri. But, in remembering the 2011 Champions League game against Bayern Munich, when Tevez refused Mancini’s instruction to come on as a substitute, Richards is more interesting on his own painful insecurity. Richards wished he didn’t have to play a game in which, eventually, he was run ragged by Franck Ribéry.

“This was a different level,” he says of Bayern. “Ribery and [Arjen] Robben on the wings, with [David] Alaba and Philipp Lahm. I touched the ball 10 times all game, and eight were tackles. When I was 18 I’d played against Robben [for England] and had got the better of him. But under Mancini I was a bit heavier and not as sharp. I was thinking about the game a lot more but I felt out of my depth. My brain was there but my body wasn’t allowing me to do it. Bayern didn’t give you a second. The pace was too quick and it was one of my worst ever games in a City shirt.”

Micah Richards takes flight after a challenge with Bayern Munich’s Jérôme Boateng during a 2011 Champions League match
Micah Richards takes flight after a challenge with Bayern Munich’s Jérôme Boateng during a 2011 Champions League match. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Richards smiles when recalling that Manuel Pellegrini left him out against Barcelona at the Camp Nou a few years later. “I was absolutely buzzing. Thank God. It’s like when Bale played against Maicon at Inter[nazionale]. One of the best right backs you’ve ever seen and Bale ruins him. [Maicon] became a laughing stock and it ended his career. I didn’t want to play against [Lionel] Messi and have him nutmegging me and scoring four.”

Did Richards ever face Messi? “No, thank God for that [he laughs]. Seriously. I did all right against [Cristiano] Ronaldo but Messi was a different animal. So when Pellegrini told me I wasn’t playing I was genuinely happy. International football is slower and you can adapt. But the Champions League has better technique, it’s quicker and everybody is more tactically aware. The crowds are jumping and it was new to us as Man City then. It was like a rabbit in the headlights.”

City now look like the best team in Europe – even if they are yet to win the Champions League. How much would Richards have benefited if he could have played for Pep Guardiola, rather than Kevin Keegan or Stuart Pearce, at the start of his career? “At 18 I was doing interviews saying: ‘I don’t believe anyone’s better than me.’ That’s how confident I was. If I was playing under Pep I’d have been up there. But don’t forget I had five knee operations from 17 to 24.”

Aston Villa’s Micah Richards faces up to Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany in 2015
Aston Villa’s Micah Richards faces up to Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany in 2015 – he only featured in 31 games across four years for Villa. Photograph: Darren Staples/Reuters

From 2015-2019, Richards played 31 games for Aston Villa in his last four years as a footballer. They were “horrible, brutal times. I put the doctor in a bad position because he advised against draining all that fluid from my knee so often. But I wanted to play so bad. One day he took 60ml in my knee but he still had to come back the week after. I was definitely depressed. You think: ‘How can I be earning such good money and be depressed?’ But even footballers can struggle. There was only one friend I could talk to and he said: ‘You can overcome this. It will make you stronger.’ Since then I’ve looked at life differently. I work hard and my intentions are pure.”

Richards was initially reluctant to do media work and, even when television opportunities rolled in, he was often dismissed as a beneficiary of positive discrimination. “That was hard because loads of people were messaging: ‘We know why you’ve got this gig.’ But I was doing BBC radio before any of this happened. Imagine going on social media and sending someone a private message just to be horrid. Some of them same people now say: ‘Oh, you’re the best pundit out there.’ What?

“I just need time to grow. Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville, Jamie Redknapp, Roy Keane have been doing it for 10 to 15 years. I remember Gary’s first interview with Mancini and his suit’s horrendous, his hair’s all over the place, he’s nervous as hell. Gary is now one of the best pundits in the country. We all need time. I wouldn’t still be on Sky or the BBC if I wasn’t doing my job well. People now understand that but back then they couldn’t.”

Keane’s intimidating aura disappeared when, during lockdown, Richards saw the hard man apply his own blusher. “It was brilliant,” Richards laughs. “Roy’s an absolute diamond. At first he seems standoffish but he’s the sweetest, humblest person you’ll ever meet. Just don’t take the piss. He’s so passionate and loves the game. He can’t let the game go.”

Richards also remains in thrall to football. “I love everything I’m doing. But my schedule is too hectic and I’ve got a son who’s five and I’m starting to miss key parts of his life. That’s the only thing I’m worried about. But football will always be my passion.”

The Game by Micah Richards in published by Harper Collins

Qatar World Cup imposes ‘chilling’ restrictions on media | World Cup 2022

International television crews in Qatar for the Fifa World Cup will be banned from interviewing people in their own homes as part of sweeping reporting restrictions that could have a “severe chilling effect” on media coverage.

Broadcasters, such as the BBC and ITV, will also be forbidden from filming at accommodation sites, like those housing migrant workers, under the terms of filming permits issued by the Qatari government.

Instead, they will be permitted to film in public places in only three locations in Doha: the Corniche waterfront promenade, the West Bay area and the Towers area.

Capturing footage “near or within” government buildings, universities, places of worship and hospitals is also prohibited, along with recording on “any privately owned property”, even with the owner’s consent.

The restrictions are within a list of conditions that outlets must agree to when applying for a filming permit from the Qatari authorities to “capture photography and videography of the most popular locations around the country”. They also apply to photographers but do not explicitly refer to print journalists who do not film their interviews.

The rules do not prohibit reports on specific subjects, but barring crews from filming on private property – “including but not limited to houses, apartment complexes, accommodation sites” – is likely to make it difficult for them to investigate reported abuses, such as the mistreatment of migrant workers, or to conduct interviews on subjects people may be reluctant to discuss in public, such as LGBTQ+ rights.

The rules also say applicants “acknowledge and agree” they will not produce reports that may be “inappropriate or offensive to the Qatari culture, Islamic principles” or “may arouse ethnic or religious disturbances”. They add that organisations will be “held responsible for criminal and civil liability for any breach of the above mentioned provisions when filming”.

Qatar’s supreme committee for delivery and legacy did not respond to requests for comment on the rules, which are published in its official media portal.

Fifa said it was “working with the supreme committee and relevant organisations in Qatar to ensure the best possible working conditions for media attending the tournament, as well as ensuring that broadcasters continue to report freely without any restrictions”.

A spokesman said it would be “important to clarify that filming on private property in any country remains subject to approval of the owner/operator of the property”. He did not comment on why the terms include an outright ban on filming on private property.

A woman takes a photo at the new Flag Plaza, on the Doha Corniche, Qatar.
The new Flag Plaza, on the Doha Corniche, one of three public areas in the city where filming by foreign crews will be permitted. Photograph: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters

Journalists have previously been detained in Qatar for reporting on issues deemed contentious by the authorities. In 2015, a group of BBC reporters were arrested in Doha and spent two nights in prison while investigating housing conditions for migrant workers. Last November, two Norwegian journalists investigating conditions for migrant labourers working on World Cup venues were arrested and detained for 36 hours as they tried to leave the country.

James Lynch, from FairSquare, a London-based human rights group, said the rules were an “extraordinarily sweeping range of restrictions” that would make it difficult for TV crews to pursue non-football-related stories. He said: “It would be incredibly difficult to fully comply with these terms, if even filming near to private or government property violates the terms of a permit.

“This is likely to have a severe chilling effect on free expression. How many organisations will authorise reporting on Qatar’s social issues if to do so puts them at risk of ending up in court?”

The restrictions present an ethical dilemma for broadcasters.

The BBC and ITV’s stringent editorial guidelines promote impartiality and are designed to protect against undue influence, including from governments. BBC guidelines, which apply to all content, say broadcasts should not unnecessarily offend but stress the importance of free expression.

Jemimah Steinfeld, editor-in-chief at Index on Censorship, said the film permit conditions were a “definite cause for concern” and appeared to be “purposely ambiguous” so that broadcasters would “err on the side of caution”.

She said her gut feeling was She felt they should not agree to such terms but said it was “extremely difficult terrain” to navigate. “The question is whether there might be stories that they can still do within the realms of that agreement, and is it more important that they do those stories?” she said. “If the BBC is basically being shoved into a position where all they can cover is the glory of it, then that would be a bad outcome.”

Qatar is an Islamic country with an authoritarian system of government. Swearing, public displays of affection and dressing immodestly are seen as offensive. Homosexual behaviour is illegal. Posting material that appears to insult, slander or is culturally insensitive may also be considered a crime, according to travel advice from the UK government.

In recent months, Qatar appears to have softened its stance on several issues in an attempt to convince visitors that it is safe and tolerant. It is allowing the sale of alcohol at stadiums, for instance, and has said that gay fans will be able to display affection during the World Cup. It has not eased rules restricting freedom of speech, which include a law against spreading “fake news” online.

The country’s World Cup bosses have attempted to discourage discussion of wider societal issues. In an interview with Sky News last week, Nasser al-Khater, the chief executive of the tournament, told football associations to focus on football instead of politics. “This is a sporting tournament that people want to come [to] and enjoy. Turning it into a platform of political statements I don’t think is right for the sport,” he said.

The BBC, which will be offering “extensive coveragemedia”, did not say if it had agreed to or challenged the film permit rules, which are detailed in the official World Cup media portal.

A spokeswoman said the broadcaster had a “long, proud history of bringing major international football tournaments to audiences” and a “proven record of addressing topical issues as part of our coverage. This World Cup will be no different”.

ITV said its news and current affairs team had carried out “extensive reporting of the decision to award the tournament to Qatar and the questions surrounding the host nation’s human rights record and will continue to do so”.

“Our journalism will be robustly independent. ITV’s World Cup tournament coverage will focus on the football, but will not shy away from the controversies off the pitch,” a spokesman said

Gary Lineker found in breach of BBC guidelines with Tory donors tweet | Gary Lineker

The BBC has found Gary Lineker in breach of the broadcaster’s own impartiality guidelines after he tweeted about the Conservative party taking money from Russian donors.

The Match of the Day presenter made the comment in February while responding to the then-foreign secretary, Liz Truss. She had said English football teams should not play in the Champions League final then to be held in Russia, due to the invasion of Ukraine.

Lineker quote-tweeted Truss’s demand with the observation: “And her party will hand back their donations from Russian donors?”

The BBC’s internal complaints department concluded that this comment breached its impartiality guidelines. This was because Lineker went out of his way to “highlight a perceived inconsistency in the Conservative party’s approach, at a time when relations between the UK and Russia were the subject of significant public debate”.

As a result the presenter has now been publicly reprimanded.

The former England footballer is the BBC’s highest-paid star but because he works in the sports department he is not automatically subject to the ultra-strict social media guidelines that apply to news staff at the BBC.

Yet the BBC complaints department concluded that Lineker should be held to a higher standard than other sports employees due to his high profile as a well-known face of the corporation.

In his defence Lineker argued that his tweet was prompted by an article on football and was intended as a comment on football rather than on politics. BBC Sport management also argued that Lineker was posing a question rather than a statement of opinion on a politically controversial matter.

It would be illegal for the Conservative party to take money from Russian nationals but it has taken substantial donations from individuals of Russian origin, people with dual nationality, or those who made their money in the country.

Lineker’s tweets on topics such as the government and Brexit have long been a particular issue for the BBC, attracting criticism from rightwing newspapers and Conservative MPs.

In response to government pressure, the BBC director general, Tim Davie, made the introduction of tough new social media guidelines one of his priorities when he took the job in 2020, with Lineker singled out as an individual who had caused headaches for the broadcaster.

The guidance asks individuals “to avoid taking sides on party political issues or political controversies and to take care when addressing public policy matters”.

Several leading BBC presenters have been exasperated by the new impartiality rules, with former Newsnight host Emily Maitlis expressing unhappiness with being found in breach of impartiality rules for retweeting a comment by Piers Morgan. Other staff have complained about the impact of the social media rules on discussing issues such as LGBT rights, while more junior staff often raise concerns that they are treated more harshly than leading stars when it comes to enforcement of the rules.

Guardian and Observer photographer Eamonn McCabe dies aged 74 | News photography

Eamonn McCabe, one of the most celebrated and admired newspaper photographers and picture editors of his generation, has died aged 74.

McCabe was a multi-award-winning sports photographer at the Observer from 1976 and later became a trailblazing picture editor of the Guardian at a key moment in its history. His third act was as a portrait photographer, with 29 examples of his work in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery.

McCabe’s death at his home in Suffolk on Sunday was sudden and unexpected. His wife, Rebecca Smithers, a former Guardian journalist, said McCabe was a kind, modest and encouraging character.

“He was very generous to younger photographers coming up through the system,” she said. “He was very encouraging. He would give big lectures but also talk to tiny little camera clubs in village halls. If people wanted to hear about his work he was happy to do that.”

The war photographer Don McCullin described McCabe as a lovely and straightforward man. “He was very passionate about photography and whenever you dealt with him he was always honest and a very nice human being. Like most of us, his life was photography.”

The boxer Sylvester Mittee tapes his hands before a training session at Frank Warren’s gym in King’s Cross, London in 1984.
The boxer Sylvester Mittee tapes his hands before a training session at Frank Warren’s gym in King’s Cross, London, in 1984. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe/The Guardian

McCullin said McCabe cut his teeth in what were the best of times, photographically, before the digital revolution.

“Photography has lost its way a bit, the way colour and digital and all those things have come into fashion. A lot of people like me and him probably thought our number was up.”

McCabe photographed McCullin for portraits on two occasions. He said: “He was just such a nice guy, he was always so enthusiastic.”

Katharine Viner, the editor-in-chief of the Guardian, said: “Eamonn was a wonderful photographer and highly skilled picture editor, who helped make the Guardian and Observer into visual powerhouses.

“He was also a lovely man – as a young Guardian writer I was always thrilled if he was assigned to the same story as me. He will be greatly missed.”

Diego Maradona is fouled during a friendly international between West Germany and Argentina in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1982.
Diego Maradona is fouled during a friendly international between West Germany and Argentina in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1982. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe/The Guardian

The former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said McCabe was unusual in that he essentially had three careers – sport photographer, picture editor and then portrait photographer.

“It is very rare for somebody who does action sports to master the art of portrait photography. I think he is unique in that respect. He spanned three fields and excelled at all of them.”

Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot, 1976.
Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot, 1976. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe/The Guardian

McCabe was born in north London and, aside from a spell at a film school in San Francisco, was self-taught as a photographer. He joined the Observer in 1976 and soon became a star, winning sports photographer of the year four times.

He photographed the titanic Borg v McEnroe tennis matches, took a memorable picture of Brendan Foster running in the rain on his way to breaking the world 10,000 metres record, and was there for the 1978 Boat Race in which the Cambridge boat sank.

“My first Boat Race, they sink, I get the blame for it … but it made a lovely picture,” he said in one interview.

One of his most memorable pictures was of the Chinese table tennis player Li Zhenshi and his staggeringly high serve.

In 1985, he was named news photographer of the year for his images from the Heysel stadium disaster.

Juventus fans at Heysel stadium in 1985.
Juventus fans at Heysel stadium in 1985. McCabe was named news photographer of the year for his images of the disaster. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe/The Guardian

After a spell as picture editor of Robert Maxwell’s short-lived SportsWeek, McCabe was hired as the Guardian’s picture editor by the paper’s editor, Peter Preston. It was a time when the new Independent newspaper was much more daringly showing the power of news photography and the Guardian, which had some great photographers, was falling behind, still using pictures in a traditional, often cliched way.

McCabe became a big, brilliant part of the Guardian’s “modern, newsy, busy” redesign, winning picture editor of the year a record six times.

His third act was as a portrait photographer, including memorable series of writers in the rooms where they wrote and artists in their studios.

Zadie Smith pictured circa 2015.
Zadie Smith pictured circa 2015. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe/The Guardian

Some of those are in the National Portrait Gallery collection, wonderful images of artists including Bridget Riley, Chris Ofili, Paula Rego and Frank Auerbach.

Fiona Shields, the Guardian’s head of photography, described McCabe as “the godfather of photojournalism”.

“He really set a standard and left a legacy that we all follow and are really proud to follow. He was also an incredibly kind person with amazing good humour. He was always full of anecdotes and warmth.”

Roger Tooth, who succeeded McCabe as Guardian picture editor, joked that both of them agreed that taking pictures and running the picture desk was “so much better than working”.

He said: “Eamonn was a brilliant photographer and picture editor with a natural talent for capturing or identifying the unusual or unseen. With his natural warmth he was always an encouraging presence wherever he was.”

McCabe was also a frequent speaker about photography, wrote several books and was involved in a number of television series, including Britain in Focus for BBC Four.

He is survived by Smithers and their daughter, Mabel, and his son, Ben, by a previous marriage.

McCullin said McCabe was like all great photographers – he never stopped working. His wife agreed. “Only two weeks ago he was photographing Aldeburgh rugby club. No job was too big or small.”