Gary Neville’s comments during the World Cup final have received formal complaints (Picture: ITV)
Complaints made against the coverage – which saw Argentina beat France in a nail-biting penalty shoot-out – were largely due to Gary Neville’s comments about the UK government.
The 47-year-old used his platform as a commentator on the match to hit out at the government when asked about troubles that had faced the host country Qatar in the lead up to and during the tournament.
It was reported in 2021 that more than 6,500 migrant workers had died in Qatar since it won the right to host the football competition. Gary, rather bizarrely, compared the tragedies to the rail workers, ambulance workers and nurses that were striking in a pay row back at home.
He said: ‘The working system of Kafala which obviously through football the conversation has started and it’s been removed here now in Qatar but it is abhorrent and we should detest low pay, we should detest poor accommodation and working conditions.
‘We can never accept that in this region or any other region and it is just worth mentioning we’ve got a current government in our country that are demonising rail workers, ambulance workers and terrifying nurses.’
Gary compared migrant workers who have died in Qatar to nurses going on strike in the UK (Picture: Dave Shopland/Shutterstock)
The former Manchester United player continued: ‘In our country we’ve got to look at workers rights but when football goes, we have to pick up on workers rights wherever it goes because people have got to be equal and treated equal.’
Ofcom, the UK’s TV regulating body, have now revealed they received 605 complaints related to ‘politicised comments’ from viewers following the live broadcast.
It was the most complained about sports programme of the year and ranked ninth overall.
An ITV spokesperson previously responded to Gary’s comments, stating they were ‘not endorsed’ by the broadcaster.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hit back at Gary’s comments (Picture: Alastair Grant/PA Wire)
They said: ‘Gary Neville was expressing his own personal views in the context of a discussion about the treatment of workers in Qatar within a live broadcast.
‘His views are his own and were not endorsed by ITV.’
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has also hit back at Gary, saying: ‘I don’t think that’s right at all.
‘If you look at our track record and my track record, as chancellor, I’ve always done everything I can to support our NHS and indeed, the wonderful people who work in it.
‘I grew up in an NHS family. I spent my life working in my mum’s pharmacy when I was younger. And if you look at what we did during Covid, we provided enormous support to the frontline at a time, when it comes to pay, when everyone else in the public sector experienced a pay freeze.’
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman added: ‘It is clearly not a legitimate or appropriate comparison in any way.’
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What is Ofcom and what does it cover?
Ofcom is the regulator for the communications services that we use and rely on each day.
The watchdog makes sure people get the best from their broadband, home phone and mobile services, as well as keeping an eye on TV and radio.
Ofcom deals with most content on television, radio and video-on-demand services, including the BBC. However, if your complaint is about something you saw or heard in a BBC programme, you may need to complain to the BBC first.
Its rules for television and radio programmes are set out in the Broadcasting Code.
The rules in the Broadcasting Code also apply to the BBC iPlayer.
This Broadcasting Code is the rule book that broadcasters have to follow and it covers a number of areas, including; protecting the under-18s, protecting audiences from harmful and/or offensive material and ensuring that news, in whatever form, is reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality.
Audiences can complain to Ofcom if they believe a breach of the Broadcasting Code has been made.
Every time Ofcom receives a complaint from a viewer or listener, they assess it to see if it needs further investigation.
If Ofcom decide to investigate, they will include the case in a list of new investigations, published in the Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin.
An investigation is a formal process which can take some time depending on the complexity of the issues involved.
Ofcom can also launch investigations in the absence of a complaint from a viewer or listener.
World Cup 2022: your FAQs answered
He compared migrant workers in Qatar to striking nurses.