A female Argentinian television reporter was robbed live on air while reporting in Qatar on the World Cup, with money and documents stolen from her handbag.
Dominique Metzger was broadcasting from the Corniche area of Doha in the build up to the first match of the tournament when she says the items were stolen.
Speaking after the incident, Metzger said she reported the incident to local police, and was surprised by their response.
She told her network Todo Noticias (TN) that officials promised to identify the suspect – and said she could choose the punishment for the alleged robber.
Argentinian journalist Dominique Metzger (pictured) was broadcasting from the Corniche area of Doha in the build up to the first match when she says items from her handbag were stolen
‘I had my small bag on me with all the things that one needs, my wallet, the keys to our hotel room, some napkins,’ Metzger told a TN network anchor.
‘And you were dancing, right?’ the anchor asked her.
‘Yes, I was dancing with the crowd and I’m convinced that it was at that moment when someone opened the bag zipper and took my wallet,’ the reporter replied.
The anchor asked if she thought it was a pickpocket that stole her wallet. While the robbery was not captured on camera, footage showed her dancing among a crowd with her bag hanging down to her side.
‘I didn’t realise at that moment, you know you’re live on air, with music and crowds around you, and I was focused on you talking to me too. So I wasn’t paying attention.
‘After I finish my live report, I wanted to take my wallet to buy a water bottle and then I realised I didn’t have it,’ she recalled.
In a bid to crack down on crime Qatar has installed thousands of cameras around its newly built stadiums, as well as 15,000 high resolution cameras inside every stadium, assisted by facial recognition technology.
Metzger told her network Todo Noticias (TN) that officials promised to identify the suspect – and said she could choose the punishment for the alleged robber
Metzger (left) said she was dancing with locals while she was on-air, and only realised after than items had been taken from her satchel bag
The report showed footage from when the reporter was dancing in the crowd, and captured the faces of some people close to Metzger. She said Qatari officials would be able to identify the suspect using facial recognition technology
There are also cameras all along the Corniche – a waterfront promenade extending for more than four miles along Doha Bay.
The tournament is being policed via a NASA-style control centre from which — for the first time at a World Cup — all eight stadiums can be simultaneously monitored by staff who can zoom in on a single fan.
Metzger said when she went to report her missing wallet, and claimed she was initially ignored on account of her being a women. She said she was dismissed, after being told that her wallet would ‘appear’ at some point.
‘Male police won’t register you,’ Metzger said. ‘As soon as I got to the police station, they took me to another place where there were only women. I asked why I was there and they told me as I’m a woman, it has to be a policewoman who has to help me’.
Once she was seen to by a policewoman, the reporter said she was shocked by what she was told.
‘The moment I was being taken declaration was shocking. They told me, “What do you want justice to do about this? We will find the wallet… We have cameras everywhere, high-tech cameras and we will find the thief with face detection technology. What do you want justice system to do to them when they are found?”.
Metzger said her items were stolen while she was reporting along Doha’s Corniche area ahead of the opening match of the World Cup. Pictured: People gather at the Corniche Waterfront ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 on November 19, 2022 in Doha
A man takes a picture at the Corniche sea promenade in Doha on November 20, 2022, during the Qatar 2022 World Cup football tournament
Confused by the question, Metzger said she asked the police officers what they were talking about. They responded by asking her: ‘”Do you want us to sentence him to five years in prison, to be deported?” He asked me, to make the decision.’
‘I told them I just want my wallet back, I won’t be making the decision for the justice system,’ she told TN.
Metzger says she was robbed before the opening game of the World Cup tournament, which saw hosts Qatar lose to Ecuador 2-0 after a a flashy opening ceremony on Sunday night.
The beer ban imposed two days before the start of the tournament was the latest controversial snag for a global event already under scrutiny for Qatar’s human rights record and the emirates’ use of migrant workers to ready the nation for the event.
And as Qatar was losing its opening match, the fan zone in central Doha became a chaotic scene as tens of thousands of fans were pushed against police lines to enter the venue. Fans were trying access the enclosed area that contained big screens for viewing matches and buy beer.
The incident involving the Argentinian journalist came after the Qatar Supreme Committee last week rushed to issue an apology to Danish broadcaster TV2 after one of their journalists was threatened by security staff while live on air.
TV2 reporter Rasmus Tantholdt was speaking as part of a live broadcast when he was approached by security staff that had appeared on a golf buggy.
Dancers perform during the opening ceremony prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Qatar and Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium on November 20 in Al Khor, Qatar
It quickly became apparent that he was not welcome to film and he was quickly threatened with having his camera smashed and destroyed.
The clip, which went gone viral across social media, showed Tantholdt switching to English to ask for clarifications on where he was allegedly misconstruing any rules on filming in Qatar. ‘You have invited the whole world here. Why can’t we film? It is a public place,’ he said.
He quickly presented his press accreditation on his phone, reaffirming their permissions to film but as one man grapples with the lens of the camera, a security guard claims the camera will be destroyed if they do not stop filming.
The Danes show their press accreditation and say they have permission to film. Then the guards follow up with a threat. If they don’t stop filming, they will destroy the camera. ‘You can break the camera,’ he added. ‘You want to beak it? Go ahead. You’re threatening us by breaking the camera.’
Danish reporter Rasmus Tantholdt was interrupted while presenting live on TV out in Qatar
Security officials took issue with him filming and soon threatening to destroy his camera
A security guard tries to explain that he is unable to film, despite his accreditation pass
Speaking from Qatar to Norwegian outlet NRK, Tantholdt confirmed he had since been given an apology by delegates in Qatar but the fact he was stopped during a live broadcast raises a number of concerns for him.
‘I don’t think the message from the top in Qatar has reached all the security guards,’ he was quoted as saying.
‘Therefore, one can argue that there are some who have misunderstood the situation, but at the same time it tells a lot about what it is like in Qatar. There it is that you can be attacked and threatened when you report as a free media.’
‘This is not a free and democratic country,’ he added. ‘My experience after visiting 110 countries in the world is: The more you have to hide, the more difficult it is to report from there.’