Karl Stefanovic has come under fire for “mocking” the lack of women present at World Cup events in Qatar.
After The Today Show posted a clip of a segment about the games in Doha on TikTok, a Lebanese-Australian business owner slammed the hosts for their display of “racism at its finest”.
Rami Ykmour, co-founder of popular restaurant chain Rashays, shared a clip of himself watching the video, in which the Today hosts are discussing the “strange” atmosphere in Doha was with 9News sports reporter Clint Stanaway.
“I’ve been to World Cups before and it’s just a different atmosphere, I guess,” Stanaway said.
In response, Stefanovic sarcastically said, “It’s good to see a lot of women to see it enjoying it over there too, Clinty.”
“There weren’t too many in the stands,” replied Stanaway.
Laughing, co-host Ally Langdon said, “Haven’t spotted one there yet.”
Replaying the video, Mr Ykmour disagreed with the comments and called on Stefanovic to apologise.
“I’ve watched the soccer and there’s plenty of women. Not to mention the racism,” he said.
“Any chance to punch anyone of Middle Eastern background, they will, and they’ve got to understand there’s a lot of us out here and that’s not the way we think, that’s not the way we behave.
“That is just pure, pure racism.”
The comments under Mr Ykmour’s video agree with his sentiment, with many saying they had attended games where many female fans were present in the crowd.
“Literally sat next to a Qatari woman cheering with her son, and directly behind three Qatari women, not to mention the whole stadium,” wrote one comment.
“I was at a game yesterday and there were plenty of women around me!!,” shared another.
While photos taken of the crowd at World Cup games have shown female fans in the minority, this may be due to Qatar’s rules around male guardianship of women, which have been criticised by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) in the past.
In a 2021 report released by the HRW, the non-governmental organisation called attention to rules which state Qatari women must obtain permission from male guardians to “marry, study abroad on government scholarships, work in many government jobs, travel abroad until certain ages, and receive some forms of reproductive health care”.
Senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, Rothna Begum said that the laws, regulations and policies restricted the ability of women to live “full, productive, and independent lives”.
Image credits: The Today Show
This article first appeared on OverSixty.